Thursday, December 20, 2012

Holidays, as we celebrate them in Poland

      Etsy connects people from many different corners of the world. The countries we come from differ in their history, traditions and holidays which they celebrate. I'd like to start a series of posts to introduce you to the type of holidays we celebrate in Poland.
Because we are coming close to Christmas, or as we know it in Poland the "Feastday of God's Birth" this is what I'd like to devote the first post to.
Christmas ballet from CzarnaBiedronka
    Before Christmas begins, Poles get ready for this holiday through Advent. It is a time of joyful awaiting and preparation, at home and most importantly - a time of spiritual readiness for the coming of the Lord. At this time we don't have huge parties, rather, in the churches we have retreat - a service for reflection. One of the first signs of Christmas, which children await, is the 6th of December. On the night from the 5th to the 6th of December, the children are visited by St. Nicolas, who leaves a small present under their pillow. The children who were naughty may find a willow switch under their pillow. 
We are now getting closer to Christmas Eve, which in Poland is known as "Wigilia". Homes are cleaned and readied. The Christmas holidays have something magical in them: the worries of the day become silent as do arguments and slights as we all sit at one table on Christmas Eve. On the morning of Christmas Eve we decorate the Christmas Tree under which gifts appear  for every person.
Possibly no one in Poland can imagine a Christmas without snow - we are glad when it comes, even if it only falls for the couple of days around Christmas. 

Christmas ornament box from miniart

Nobody should be alone on Christmas Eve, and that is why on we always place an extra setting on the table, for the unexpected guest. We also put a bit of hay under the tablecloth, which represents Jesus being born in poverty. We sit down to the Christmas Eve dinner when the first star appears in the sky. Before we sit down to dinner we read a passage from scripture and share the "opłatek" a thin wheat wafer usually with an embossed holy picture on it, and share wishes for each other for the upcoming year.  


That day we traditionally fast, so dishes which we consume do not contain meat. Tradition says that the Christmas Eve table should have twelve courses. 
Opinions vary on whether this is related to the number of apostles or the twelve months of the year. Among the Christmas Eve dishes you will find: fish - the most popular is carp, which is prepared in a variety of ways, Kutia a type of porridge with wheat, poppyseeds and dried candied fruits, red borsch with a type of tortellini, potato salad, pierogi (dumplings) with sauerkraut and mushrooms and many other traditional Polish dishes. Everyone should taste each of the twelve dishes so that they will lack nothing in the upcoming year. 

After the supper we sing carols and exchange gifts from under the tree. At midnight, we meet in churches for the midnight mass. According to tradition this commemorates the shepherds arrival at Bethlehem to give homage to the newly born Messiah.


 
Christmas is a season for spending time with family, visiting and joy.
It is our tradition to sing carols, put on a "Jaselka" and going caroling. "Jasełka" is a play based on the birth of Jesus. The tradition of caroling consists of visiting homes, mainly by young people dressed as characters related to the birth of Jesus who play out scenes connected to Christmas, sing carols, make wishes for the household, and in return receive candy and small amounts of money.

 Later it gets closer to the end of the year and "Sylwester" the traditional New Year's Eve celebration, but more about that at another time.

Photography from magnesina



In celebration of the coming Christmas and New Year, 
on behalf of all of us from Poletsy 
we wish you:
 warm moments in the circle of friends and family
openness to the World
the courage to be free, as freedom is creativity
faith in others
wonder in every day
calm, because in stillness we can sail on the ocean of reflection
the ability to care for ourselves
stop and take a moment to reflect which direction we want to go

5 comments:

  1. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Great article!

    Merry Christmas! :)

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thanks so much for including my ballets :)

    Merry Christmas !

    ReplyDelete
  4. Lovely!!

    Thank you for including my christmas box.

    Merry Christmas!

    ReplyDelete

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