Christmas is the most awaited festival and one of the most important in the Polish tradition. We spend it with family and close friends. Christmas Eve begins Christmas. In Poland Christmas Eve has permanently entered to tradition in the eighteenth century.
In many countries, it is not as important as in Poland. As in Poland, Christmas Eve is celebrated only in Lithuania, the Czech Republic and Slovakia. For Christmas dinner, everyone sits down after nightfall, when the first star appears is in the sky. Everyone breaks down the wafer and makes wishes. An inseparable part of Christmas is singing carols. During Christmas holidays a Christmas tree is decorated in every Polish house. Christmas tree arrived in Poland around the 19th century from Germany. The first Christmas decorations were apples, gingerbread cookies, candies and candles. Under the Christmas tree, there are Christmas gifts. Everyone cannot wait to open them.
Commonly known in Poland is leaving a free seat at the Christmas table. This place is for a casual guest who is treated on this special day as a family member. This seat at the table may also mean a deceased family member, thus displaying a constant memory of him. Depending on the region and family traditions, the Christmas Eve dishes are different. It should be twelve dishes. Everyone should try every dish, which will ensure happiness throughout the year.
The most frequently served dishes are: beetroot soup (in some regions of Poland, white soup or mushroom soup), fish (mostly carp), cabbage with peas, dumplings with sauerkraut, mushroom pudding, noodles with poppy seeds, sugar and honey, dried fruit compote, pie and kutia (derived from Eastern tradition).
After Christmas Eve all families go to the church to take part in Pasterka, which is the holy mass which is celebrated at midnight from 24 to 25 December. It commemorates the waiting and prayer of the shepherds heading for Bethlehem.
Christmas cleaning, preparing holiday dishes, decorating the house and the Christmas tree, gift giving to others in this magical time, family gatherings are only part of Christmas customs.
For me Christmas is a magical time full of warmth, peace and love. And what about you? How do you spend Christmas in your country?
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