Christmas is one of the most awaited holidays in Christian tradition – it is the time of meetings with family and friends in the surrounding of unique customs and excellent cuisine.
In Poland tradition of Christmas is very important, it is a family time including Christmas Eve on 24 December and next two Christmas Days. The majority of customs is connected with Christmas Eve, which is observed very solemnly. The house is beautifully decorated, the Christmas tree (the symbol of life, rebirth and fertility) stands in the central place and looks amazing with all those glass ball, tiny lights and other decorations. On the table there wait plates for all guests and one more for a lonely stranger, just in case. The celebration is initiated by breaking off a Christmas wafer and exchanging wishes. Then we start a feast, which includes twelve dishes (they commemorate the Twelve Disciples). Under the table cloth there is a bit of hay reminding about Jesus Christ in the crib.
During Christmas Eve, when the first star (like the Star of Bethlehem) appears on the sky, members of the family open the presents. At midnight Christians gather in the church to attend the special Midnight Mass (Pasterka), where carols are sung. Carols have been an essential part of Christmas since its beginning.
During Polish Christmas Eve we traditionally do not eat meat. The first course is a soup – most commonly red borsch, mushroom soup or others, like fish or sweet almond, depending on the region. Then we consume dumplings with sour cabbage and wild mushrooms, peas with mushrooms or noodles with cabbage. There is always a vast selection of fish – the most popular is carp (fried, in the jelly or with grey sauce), cod with vegetables, roasted salmon and many types of herring. Desserts are full of spice aroma, nuts, raisins, honey and, of course, poppy seed. Typical Christmas dessert, which combines majority of those additives is kutia – very popular in Easter Poland. We also prepare many kinds of poppy seed cakes and gingerbreads. At the end of the supper compote made of dried and smoked fruit (apples, pears and plums) is served.
Next two days of Christmas are usually spent with a family, as well. They eat dinner together, but this time roasted meat reigns on the Christmas table. Most often we prepare ham or duck, but also turkey is becoming more and more popular in many homes.
Christmas time is magical thanks to solemn atmosphere, numerous customs and traditions and special dishes, which we wait for the whole year.
Verres en Vers wishes You Merry Christmas!
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