Poland officially the Republic of Poland is a country in Central Europe. It is bordered by Germany to the west; the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south; Ukraine, Belarus to the east; and the Baltic Sea and Kaliningrad Oblast, a Russian exclave, and Lithuania to the north.
The Capital and largest city of this country is Warsaw.
Christmas Celebrations in Poland :
Christmas in Poland is a major annual celebration, as in most countries of the Western world. The observance of Christmas developed gradually over the centuries, beginning in ancient times; combining old pagan customs with the religious ones introduced after the Christianization of Poland by the Catholic Church. Later influences include mutual permeating of local traditions and various folk cultures. Christmas trees are decorated and lit in family rooms on the day of Christmas Eve. Other trees are placed in most public areas and outside churches.
In Poland, Advent is the beginning of Christmas Time. It’s a time when people try to be peaceful and remember the real reason for Christmas. People try not to have excess of anything. Some people give up their favourite foods or drinks and parties and discos are not widely held. Some people also go to Church quite frequently. There is the tradition of the ‘roraty’, special masses held at dawn and dedicated to Mary for receiving the good news from the angel Gabriel. During Advent, people also prepare their houses for Christmas. There’s lots of cleaning and people wash their windows and clean their carpets very thoroughly. Everything must be clean for Christmas day! Poland is a largely catholic country and Christmas Eve is a very important and busy day. Traditionally it’s a day of fasting and abstinence and meat is not normally allowed to be eaten in any form.
If the Christmas Tree hasn’t been put up before hand, it’s also brought in and decorated with tinsel, lights and glass decorations. Gold, silver and white chains resembling long, silver glittering hair is also hung on the tree and a star is placed on the top. Nativity Cribs are also common decorations and Children take part in Nativity plays at schools and in Churches. After that the house is cleaned again and everyone also gets washed and puts on their festive clothes. A special Christmas Eve meal called Wigilia is eaten after the first star has been seen in the sky. It’s also all meat free and might consist of Barszcz (beetroot soup), Uszka (mushroom ravioli), Pierogi (Pasta) and fish dishes (normally carp and herrings).
At the beginning of the meal, a large wafer biscuit called an ‘Oplatek’, which has a picture of Mary, Joseph and Jesus on it, is passed around the table and everyone breaks a piece off and eats it. Sometimes a small piece may be given to any farm animals or pets that the family may have. A place is often left empty at the meal table, for the Christ Child, as in the Czech Republic. Sometimes straw is put on the floor of the room, or under the table cloth, to remind people that Jesus was born in a stable or cow shed.
The meal consists 12 dishes of mostly fish, mushrooms, puddings and cake. Common dished include pierogi, bigos and karp. Like in many Catholic countries, Christmas Eve is often a ‘fasting day’ meaning that some people don’t eat anything until after sunset. So that’s where the custom of the first star come from. Later children check the presents under the tree and and give them out. Presents might also be brought by ‘Swiety Mikolaj’ (St. Nicholas). After the meal, the candles on the Christmas Tree are lit and people eat, talk and sing carols. Children sometimes dress up as characters from the Christmas story and go carol singing. Christmas Eve is finished by going to Church for a Midnight Mass service. The days after Christmas are often spent with family and friends.
Christmas Celebrations are grand in Big cities of Poland like Capital city of Warsaw, and other cities that include – Kraków, Łódź, Wrocław, Poznań, Gdańsk, Szczecin, Bydgoszcz, Lublin, Katowice, Białystok, Gdynia, etc.
In Polish Happy/Merry Christmas is ‘Wesołych Świąt’.
Wishing all readers Merry Christmas 2019 & Happy New Year 2020 !!!