Christmas is coming, so I want to tell you a few words about this holiday.
In Poland we begin Christmas season on December 24th. That day is the most important day for many of us. December 24th is almost a typical work day, but on the other hand everyone wants to spend this day at home preparing a special dinner. The dinner on December 24th we call “Wigilia”, but we also call the whole day “Wigilia” – it means Christmas Eve. We try to eat this dinner with our family, friends. You shouldn’t be alone during that night.
The whole day is special. Many people are fasting during that day, and this is also a meatless day. Everyone is waiting for the first star in the sky, especially children. The Christmas tree is lit, a table and dinner are ready. It means we may start our “Wigilia” and Christmas. 🙂
Before we start our dinner we pray for our family, for our friends, for people we know. Sometimes we read a small part of the Bible connected with the birth of Jesus. Then we share with each other ‘oplatek’ (consecrated bread wafer which is similar to that used during Holy Communion in the Roman Catholic Church), we exchange our wishes, talk about our dreams, many people try to forgive, others ask for forgiveness. We forgive everyone everything.
The table – under a white tablecloth we put a tiny pile of hay – it is a symbol of a place where our God was born. We also prepare one additional place for an unexpected guest who, especially that night, should not be turned away.
The dinner is meatless but we have many traditional dishes, and every area in Poland has its own traditional dishes for that dinner.I’ll describe for you what typical dishes we have for that day.
You must try every dish to avoid bad luck in the next year and you should leave a small piece of every dish you tried if you don’t want to be hungry for the upcoming year.
We start our dinner with a special soup made from beets with a small pierogi. We called them “uszka” it means small ears.My mother makes these small ears only for Christmas Eve dinner.
Then we eat a few types of ‘pierogi’ with different fillings such as mushrooms, cabbage, fish, cottage cheese. But, the main dish is fish. We prepare many dishes from different types of fishes, but one, the most important fish that must be on the table is carp. On the table you find many dishes from different fishes.
For this dinner we also prepare a special juice made from dried fruits such as apples, plums, pears.
Every region has its own sweet deserts. In my home we eat ‘kutia.’ It is a dish prepared from boiled wheat, poppy seeds and honey. You may also add raisins, nuts, figs. I love it and I wait the whole year to eat ‘kutia.’
The typical cakes which we prepare for Christmas are poppy-seed cakes, cheesecakes, and many many other. Often it depends on what types of cakes you like.
After the dinner we sing carols, and then is a quite nice part of the whole evening. Below the Christmas trees you find presents, so after dinner it is a time to unwrap your presents, talk with others, just have fun with your family, friends.
At midnight we often go to the church for a special Mass called Pasterka = the Mass of the Shepherds,to commemorate the shepherds who were the first to greet the newborn baby Jesus. Carols, snow, stars make the magical spirit of Christmas Eve.
The whole evening, and night is magical. Many dreams come true.It is a wonderful beginning of the Christmas holiday.
My favourite carols:
Christmas Eve superstitions:
You should get up quite early to not have problems with getting up for the upcoming year. You should pay all debts off. The first person who enters your home that day should be a man, not a woman. You shouldn’t argue with others, you should smile for the whole day.
We also believe that animals can talk at midnight.