MAGAZINE - DECEMBER 2014
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
(or communion services) 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!
Before Christmas, children in schools
and preschools take part in “Jasełka”
(Nativity Plays). They are very popular
and often more secular than religious.
The Christmas story is also sometime
put into modern times.
The smell of tangerines in schools or
workplaces is widely thought to mean
that Christmas time is about to start!
Poland is a largely catholic country
and Christmas Eve is a very important
and busy day. It’s now often the most
important day over Christmas - even
though it’s not a holiday but Christmas
and the 26th December are holidays!
Traditionally it was day of fasting and
abstinence (not eating anything) and
meat is not normally allowed to be
eaten in any form.
Christmas Eve is known as Wigilia
(pronounced vee-GHEE-lee-uh). The
house is also cleaned and everyone
gets washed and puts on their festive
clothes. The main Christmas meal
is eaten in the evening and is called
“Kolacja wigilijna” (Christmas Eve
supper). It’s traditional that no food is
eaten until the first star is seen in the
sky! So children look at the night sky
to spot the first star!
On the table there are 12 dishes - they
are meant to give you good luck for
the next 12 months. The meal is tradi-
tionally meat free, this is to remember
the animals who took take of the baby
Jesus in the manger. Everyone has to
eat or at least try some of each dish.
For catholics the 12 dishes symbol-
ize Jesus’s 12 disciples. Like in many
Catholic countries, Christmas Eve
is often a ‘fasting day’ meaning that
some people don’t eat anything until
after sunset (when the Church day
officially ends). So that’s where the
custom of the first star come from.
Some people in central Poland say
that at midnight the animals can
One of the most
important dishes is
root soup) and it’s
obligatory to have
it. If you really
hate it, you can
The barszcz may
be eaten with
mushrooms) or “kroki-