I am from Lodz the center of Poland And I will explain to you how we enjoy our Christmas in Łódź. Christmas is the most important holiday in my country and it’s called “Boże Narodzenie” (the birth of God).
Normally everyone has a similar way of celebration, but some things may differ on the grounds of the region. And of course, many things depend on the family and how religious they are.
In Poland almost everyone is Catholic, but many people tend to spend Christmas in a less religious way, where going to church or attending a Midnight Mass is not as important as it used to be.
First of all, it is a family time. Christmas Eve needs to be spent with your relatives and many families wander from house to house in order to meet with everybody.
Sometimes it is divided into two days, but the most important event is the Christmas Eve dinner where all your loved ones sit in one place, eat traditional food, and sing carols.
In Łódź, where I am from, we celebrate Christmas like all other Poles. So no big differences in meals or preparations, as it could be in the mountain regions.
One of the most exciting things happening in the city is of course a Christmas market.
The main, historic street called Piotrkowska is decorated with beautiful luminous decorations in the shapes of glass balls, Christmas trees, or snowflakes. It looks really pretty and every year they are adding more magical decorations.
On the little squares next to this main street there are big Christmas trees and on the main square, there is a house of Santa Claus where children can go and tell Santa all their wishes and, of course, take a picture with him or/and his elves.
From decorations along the street, the Christmas market is stretched. You can drink some festive beverages here, like winter tea with cardamom and cinnamon, hot chocolate, or mulled wine. Eat our national smoked cheese served with cranberry sauce.
As we are a nation who love to eat well, there is a place for a barbecue with Polish kielbasas and other meat treats. Not only is food available at the Christmas market.
You can buy local handcrafts or some Christmas decorations as well. There are some Christmas events going on, like concerts or an event called ”A Ride in Santa’s magical sleigh”.
On Piotrkowska Street there are the best restaurants in the city, where you can eat a festive meal or spend there a Christmas Eve supper with your family. The best ones are Karczma u Chochoła, Restauracja Piwnica Łódzka, and Chłopska Izba where you can eat traditional Polish food. It’s very delicious!
At the end of Piotrkowska Street there is a place called Manufaktura it is one of the biggest entertainment and shopping centres in Europe. Lodz used to be one of the biggest textile manufacturers in Poland and there were a lot of fabrics here. So Manufaktura is a revitalized big old factory now full of restaurants and shops.
At Christmas time, it is the second most decorated place in the city, and a lot of events are happening here. Beautiful decorations, a huge Christmas tree on the main square, and the rest of the previously mentioned Christmas market make a perfect place for your Christmas present shopping! The main themes of the decorations are gingerbread and a magical elves village.
As for the main family celebrations, we celebrate Christmas Eve and then the first and second day of Christmas (Christmas Day and Boxing Day). The most important is a Christmas Eve supper. Christmas Eve is a mix of old pagan traditions interconnected with Christian ones.
For example, it is said that what you do on a day of Christmas Eve you will continue doing the whole next year. So you mustn’t fight, wake up early or borrow money because unpleasant consequences of these activities bode ill for the future.
Another significant tradition is leaving an extra seat for the unexpected guest at the dinner table. It is mostly left for travellers or homeless people who don’t have places to go. Before supper, we also put hay on the table under the tablecloth. And in the afternoon we finally start our festive supper!
Traditionally, 12 dishes are served to reflect the number of the Apostles and it is a running tradition which everyone preserves. When I was a child I was very excited about eating every 12 dishes, even just trying a little bit of count. The dishes are different in every region and even in every house.
For example, I always have groats with mushroom sauce and my friends mostly don’t have it on their tables. However, I have heard that it is mostly common in Poznan and my grandmother lived in the village near Poznan city when she was younger, so it could have come from there.
On almost every table you can find dumplings, mushroom soup or beetroot soup, cabbage with mushrooms, some fish (the most traditional one is carp), herring in cream or oil and kompot (stewed fruit).
The tradition of giving presents after Christmas Eve supper. Sometimes Santa Claus himself shows up with the presents (mostly it’s a tradition for children who believe that Santa Claus is a real person, so if there are no children in the family, people exchange presents) or he magically leaves presents under the tree.
It is possible for him because children gather together and go on a walk to look for Santa. And this clever old man always visits the house when they are outside looking for him.
After unwrapping the presents the whole family sits together and sings carols. Here are some links to the most popular Polish Carols:
In some parts of Poland, especially in the south near mountains in the countryside, there are groups of carollers going from house to house and singing and raising money for charity.
Many people at midnight go to a Midnight Mass called Pasterka.
The first and second days of Christmas are for spending time with relatives. Many times the ones whom we didn’t see a day before. So, for many families, it is a time for travel so that they can meet with everyone, exchange good wishes and presents.