25 December 2018

AMWF couple: Christmas time in Poland!

Last Christmas I was in Taiwan and it's already 15 months since I was in Poland! 

The Christmas time in Poland starts 24th December. It's still working day for many people but everyone try to spend Christmas Eve together. Usually whole family will meet, for many people it's one of not many days they meet each other. Usually grandparents, parents and kids will be together.
In the past in my family we always spend Dec 24th with my mother's family, my grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins.
Dec 25th was always for my father's family in his parents home.

This year is different, we join one of my aunt and family for this day instead just stay with my father and brother at home.  It's first Christmas for my husband and our baby. We also had a Santa Clause came with a bag of gifts. Santa Clause is more funny but the gifts usually was put under Christmas tree and wasn't open until the dinner was finished.


Christmas tradition Poland Christmas tree decorations

Christmas tradition Poland Christmas tree decorations

The first tradition I would want to mention is decorating Christmas tree. Traditionally it should be done in 24th Dec morning, but many kids can't wait to this day and start to decorate about 2 weeks earlier. It's not good idea if you have alive tree. I've alive tree this year and we decorated it just one day before Christmas. I've also one Christmas tree made from paper few years ago. 

There was also a funny situation. We checked christmas light before putting it onto tree and they was working. Right after they was hand there it stoped. My brother checked every single light and everything seemed to be ok. Few days later I wanted to cleaned it up. After we took lights out of tree, we checked it once again.- they worked!! All Christmas we thought they was broken haha

Before we start dinner, we are looking for the first star to appear on the sky. I'm pretty lucky to live on the countryside, not many lights around let us to see the sky better. This tradition comes from the Bethlehem Star which guided the Wise Men to the birthplace of Christ. Just like them we are waiting for this happy moment to celebrate. 

Christmas tradition Poland Christmas wafer

Yet before we start to eat everyone will share Christmas wafer - opłatek (unleavened wafer made of flour and water, embossed with a religious image). Every person gets one and shares pieces with everyone else exchanging wishes. This tradition is linked to breaking bread at the Last Supper.

My family doesn't speak English and my husband doesn't understand thus tradition. I tried to explain a while and was a translator between them.

Christmas tradition Poland Christmas dishes table

Another tradition is to leave one empty plate on the table in case someone show up and asks for shelter. It doesn't really happens nowadays, but if any stranger comes we would invite him to the table. We will also place little hay under the tablecloth. According to Bible the newborn Jesus was put on hay.

I think not many people still do that. There is many traditions people already forgot like leaving empty plate, reading Bible and singing Christmas carols. My family nowadays doesn't do it, I can't remember much from the past, but at least we play carols on CD's. 
Now the "tradition" is to watch Home Alone haha. Since many years it can be seen in Polish tv over and over again during Christmas (there was only one year they didn't show). 

Christmas tradition Poland Christmas food mushroom soup

Christmas tradition Poland Christmas beetroot soup


Traditionally we serve 12 dishes. We don't eat meat while Christmas Eve (except fish meat). It represents the twelve month of the year and twelve apostols. It's the symbol of richness. Most popular dishes for Christmas Eve are: red borscht or mushroom soup (some people serve cherries soup, but sweet flavor isn't liked by many), dumplings stuffed with cabbage and mushrooms, potato salad, fishes (especially carp), poppy seed cake and dried fruits compote.

Christmas tradition Poland Christmas food

Christmas tradition Poland Christmas food poppy seed cake

This day everyone will sing Christmas carols, some people also read Bible. Traditionally after dinner we can open gifts from family. I think it's the moment every kid wait for all day.

An old Polish legend says that animals are granted the gift of speech in this day. It had to be a reward for their role in welcoming Jesus on earth.
Many kids will try to speak with their pets, also share opłatek with them. Unfortunately my pets never speak back to me...



Many people go to mass at midnight which in Polish is called Pasterka. It refers to Biblical shepherds who were visited by an angel and told of the birth of Christ. The mass lasts about one hour and people will sing Christmas carols.

Last day of Christmas is 26th, after this time some people still back to work, only kids are lucky to have about 2 weeks holidays around this time.
Traditionally the Christmas tree should be kept until January 6 which is the Three King's Day. Also during this time a priest comes visiting every house for a short blessing. 

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