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ety” (pancakes with mushrooms or/

and cabbage, in breadcrumbs, fried

on oil or butter).

Carp is the main dish of the meal. The

fish itself is traditionally bought a few

days earlier alive and it swims in the

bath until it’s killed by the lady of the

house! Now most people just buy a

fillet of carp instead (especially if you

only have a shower and not a bath in

your house!). The carp’s scales are

said to bring luck and fortune and by

some are kept for the whole year (e.g.

in wallets) Some older ladies put them

in their bras for the time of the supper

and give them next day to the guest

for good luck!!!

“Bigos” is a dish which can be eaten

either hot or cold. It’s made of cab-

bage, bacon, sometimes dried plums

- so it is saved for Christmas day or

the 26th as it has meat in it. It is made

about a week or so before Christmas

Eve, because with each day it gets


Herrings are very popular and usually

are served is several ways: in oil, in

cream, in jelly. Each household has

their own recipe that that say is ‘the

best in the whole wide world’!

In most houses there is also “kompot

z suszu” that is drink made by boiling

dried fruits and fresh apples.

The most popular desserts at Kolacja

wigilijna are “makowiec”, a poppy

seed roll made of sweet yeast bread,

“kutia” mixed dried fruits and nuts

with wheat seeds, “piernik”

a moist cake made with

honey (that’s like gin-

gerbread) and ginger-

breads (which are

usually dry and

very hard).

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

an unexpected guest. Polish people

say that no one should be alone or

hungry, therefore if someone unex-

pectedly knocks on the door they are

welcomed. In some houses, the empty

place is to commemorate a dead

relative or for a family member who

couldn’t come to the meal.

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 worst part about the Christmas

Eve supper is that you can’t open the

presents before it has finished! Older

members of the family (who tradition-

ally begin and end this meal) always

make it last a long time. In most of

the houses, before the presents are

opened, the family sings carols togeth-

er. Children really want to open the

present and sometimes more carols

are sung just to tease the children!

There are very many carols sung

in Poland and each region has own

carols. The most popular ones are

“Wśród nocnej ciszy” (Within nights

silence), “Bóg się rodzi” (God is born),

“Lulajże Jezuniu” (Sleep baby Jesus)

and “Dzisiaj w Betlejem” (Today in

Bethlehem). The oldest carols are

from medieval times, but the most

popular ones are from the baroque


Presents are

brought by “Święty

Mikołaj” (St Nicho-

las/Santa Claus),

but in some parts

of Poland there are

different present

bringers (because

during the 19th

century the borders

of Poland were

different, so people

had different tradi-

tions). In the east

(Podlasie) there

is “Dziadek Mróz”

(Ded Moroz), in

western and northern Poland “Gwiaz-

dor”, the Starman. The starman is not

always all-good - if someone was bad,

he can give him “rózga”, a birch-rod

that should be used on bad person!

The Christmas tree is also often

bought in and decorated on Christmas

Eve. It is decorated with a star on the

top (to represent the Star of Beth-

lehem), gingerbreads, lights (previ-

ously candles) and “bombki” which

are baubles and glass ornaments in

different shapes (though most often

they are spheres). They are usually

hand-made, painted or decorated in

other way. You can see some bombki


In the east

of Poland the decorations are tradi-

tionally made of straw and are very

beautiful. In some houses there is also

a custom of breaking one of the Christ-

mas Tree decorations (e.g. breaking s

glass bauble) to scare the evil out of

the house for the whole next year!

Christmas Eve is finished by going to

Church for a Midnight Mass service.

The days after Christmas are often

spent with family and friends.

People in Poland also like kissing

under the mistletoe!

In Polish Happy/Merry Christmas is

‘Wesołych Świąt’.

Polish Children also often get dressed

up and go carol singing on Epiphany,

January 6th.