blend of religious fervor - and ancient supersitions - are the
main ingredients for a warm and festive holiday season in Poland.
or nativity creche is often an integral part of Christmas observances
in churches, as well as in homes, where plans are busily made
throughout December for another important centerpiece of a Polish
Christmas - the holiday feast.
Eve is when Poles gather for the main celebration, filled with
wonderful traditions beginning with bits of straw laid down under
the holiday table cloth as a reminder of Jesus' humble birth in
the observance of Gwiazdka, or "little star" as the
sky is carefully watched for the appearance of the first star
of the night - in remembrance of the Star of Bethlehem. The moment
the star appears, families may begin the cermony of feasting,
or wigilia, deriving its name from the old Latin, "to
with a special rice wafer called oplatek, which is is broken
into pieces and shared by all. Next, the old custom of seating
an even-number of people around the holiday table (lest bad luck
befall someone) is still followed by some families, who also may
arrange for a seat to be left empty for a wanderer in need, or
in remembrance of a deceased relative.
dishes of Polish Christmas are usually served as a symbol of the 12 apostles,
and include generous helpings of the traditional carp, borscht,
soup wild mushroom, perogies, pickled herring, and noodles with
of desserts may also be on the menu, including a traditional cwibak
(Christmas fruit cake), piernik (honey cake), and baba rum.
More information about Christmas in Poland around the Web:
- Check out a wonderful overview of Polish Christmas customs and superstitions
including the Christmas feast, the Crech, and traditional carols.