Traditions about traditions- Christmas in Poland
Poland is so close to Germany, what could be so different at Christmas than here? Surprise, the answer is: extremely much! Sarah’s family comes from Poland and she tells us a lot of exciting things about the traditional Christmas in our neighboring country.
A Christmas market in the Polish city of Wroclaw.
Wigilia is an important festival
Christmas is called for the Poles Wigilia (Latin for: "guards"). As with us, the pre-Christmas season is ushered in in Poland with Christmas markets. There are many colorful stands, for example the Polish gingerbread piernik sold. For many Catholic Poles, Christmas is the most important festival of the year. That’s why the whole family spends Christmas Day together from morning to night. Together they cook the banquet and prepare everything.
The Christmas wafers
Before the meal there are Polish wafers. These are thin pastries that consist only of water, flour and starch and are very crispy. Sarah thinks that you can also compare them with edible paper. The wafers are decorated with representations of Jesus and Maria or the Christ child. Everyone in the family gets a wafer and breaks each other’s halves off each other. Good luck and blessings for the next year. The shared wafer tradition is a sign of love, friendship and peace. It is so important to the Poles that the Christmas wafers are sent to friends and family all over the world. For Sarah it was always one of the best moments at Christmas because you feel so close to your family there.
A feast full of traditions
In Poland, special importance is attached to the banquet. There are many delicacies that are served, such as roll mops or herring in beer sauce and many rural specialties. This includes Pierogi (filled dumplings), Christmas pies and barszcz (Beetroot soup). For dessert, depending on the region, there is a poppy seed dessert like that Makowiec (Poppy rolls).
The whole table is covered with delicious dishes. Traditionally, 12 dishes are served. This corresponds to the number of Jesus apostles. It is only eaten when the first star can be seen in the sky. It is usually around 5 p.m. Sarah’s family is especially waiting for the appearance of the Polaris. By the way, there is always an additional place setting on the table. On the one hand, it should remind of the deceased, but it should also be ready if a needy knocks on the door. One thinks of Josef and Maria, who were looking for shelter at Christmas, but were not allowed in anywhere. Also interesting: Many families put a piece of money under their plates or tablecloth or put a fish bone in their wallets. It is supposed to protect them from poverty next year.
The star man and the star singer
After a long wait, there is finally the big mess after dinner. However, the Polish children do not know Santa Claus. The presents are brought to them by the star man and his helpers to the star boy. Traditionally, it is carefully checked whether the children were well behaved. There is a lot of singing while eating and giving presents. There are countless Polish Christmas carols that the whole family throws along enthusiastically. Traditionally, many disguised star singers run through the streets on Christmas Day and sing to the families at the doors.
Many believing families end the evening with the Christmas mass. The pasterka means shepherd’s mass. It usually begins around midnight and does not end until well after midnight. There is also an extra one pasterka for children who start earlier. Many Christmas carols are sung in the church.
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