Christmas is just around the corner and Polish people are sorting out the last details. The way a Catholic country is spending Christmas days can be very interesting for non-Catholic or foreign people, regardless their country of origin. In the following lines I will detail the beautiful Christmas traditions specific to Poland.
Did you know that Polish people are eating 12 dishes for Christmas Eve? Yes, you’ve heard well. This tradition has it’s roots in the Bible. There is one dish for each of the 12 apostles. Some specific dishes might differ from region to region, but most of them are universal.
Christmas dinner is truly special and the ones who strictly respect traditions don’t eat anything until the first star is shining on the sky.
On Christmas Eve the only accepted meat is fish.
Breaking the Oplatek is one absolutely Polish tradition. Oplatek are special waffers made of water and flour.
The custom of singing Christmas carols is present in Polish culture too. The difference is that people are caroling on St. Stefan Day, not on Christmas Eve. In some regions, groups of 12 singers dressed in special costumes are performing religious scenes for the host. The Christmas tree is decorated on Wigilia (Christmas Eve) and children don’t receive gifts under it.
In some regions, it is Gwiazdor who makes an appearance on Christmas Eve. Gwiazdor is very different from the St. Nicholas or Santa Claus. He is a spirit from the past, dressed in a sheepskin and his face is covered in soot. His name is derived from the Polish word for “star,” which is an important symbol on Christmas Eve.
It is said that whan happens on Christmas will have great influence upon the coming year. This includes the weather and atmosphere inside the family. Farmers have a special ritual for blessing the land on Christmas Eve. They are using holy water and placing crosses made of straw in all of their land corners. So, be aware of what will happen for you on Christmas 🙂
Until then, Merry Christmas! or how the Poles are saying: Wesołych Świąt! 🙂