World Christmas Traditions now brings you to Poland. The Polish people celebrate the Christmas season in the most fascinating way. Polish Christmas starts early in Poland, as the Polish people celebrate the Feast of St Nicholas on December 6.
During the Advent, Polish families become busy preparing some of the popular Polish Christmas foods such as their version of the gingerbread cookies which is locally called Piernik. The Piernik is made into shapes of stars, hearts, Christmas trees and Santa Claus. Many Polish families do handmade Christmas decorations made from wood, colorful paper and other materials.
Most homes have a Chritmas tree set up by Christmas Eve. The Polish Christmas tree is decorated by a star on top, together with many Christmas decors like Christmas lights, Christmas balls, garlands and baubles. The Christmas tree stays until February 2, for the Feast of St. Mary of the Candle of Lightning.
During the time of Advent until the Epiphany, the Gwiazdory, or star carriers walk the streets of Poland. During this event, people sing traditional Polish Christmas Carols or watch puppet shows or Szopki.
Wigilia is the Polish term for the Christmas Eve Supper. People will do some fasting first during Christmas Eve, and then celebrations will start during the Wigilia. No red meat is served during the Christmas Eve Dinner. Most dishes are made from fish, usually carp. After the meal, family and friend exchange gifts.
Christmas Eve Dinner begins by the breaking the bread called Oplatek as a symbol of unity to Christ. Many Polish families serves 12 dishes for the Wigilia to represent the 12 Apostles.
During the Christmas Eve, the appearance of the first star is very important. The first star is called Star of Bethlehem, and in Polandit is also known as the Little Star or even a lady’s name for Santa Claus’ counter part called Gwiazdka.
According to the Polish Christmas traditions, hay must be placed under the table in order for the people to remember the birth of Jesus Christ in a manger. Some also leave some money under the table cloth for guests to find as a wish of prosperity for the next year.
Polish Christmas Carols are called Koledy. Koledy are sung after the Christmas Vigil Mass.