Christmas in Poland lasts a total of three days, from Christmas Eve to St. Stephen’s Day. Interestingly, the biggest celebration takes place on the evening of December 24. At that time, the family sits down together at the table to eat Christmas Eve supper.
Afterward, the revelers usually set out for Pasterka, a solemn mass held at midnight. In this way, the coming of his Savior into the world is celebrated.
Where is the best place to eat? – In your own home!
Christmas is a public holiday in Poland. Most bars and restaurants close as early as Christmas Eve. It is assumed that this is a time to spend with family. Nothing can replace the home-cooked dishes that are prepared for the Christmas Eve supper. According to tradition, there should be 12 meals on the table.
It is not entirely certain whether this number refers to the Apostles or is related to the number of months in the calendar year.
Usually among the dishes are ravioli with borscht, dumplings with mashed potatoes, and carp. And for dessert, cheesecake, poppy seed cake, and gingerbread are most often prepared. Making delicacies together is an important part of the celebration.
But what about people who can’t cook or don’t have anyone to spend Christmas with? Polish tradition dictates that one free place should be prepared at the Christmas table. The setting is supposed to wait for a stray wanderer, who should be hosted if he or she expresses a desire to join the feast.
Where do you get the best hot chocolate? – Nowhere!
Hot chocolate is not a particularly popular drink in Poland. True, some people drink cocoa with milk, but during the holidays a completely different beverage reigns supreme.
It is a compote, which is a drink made from cooked, dried fruits. It cannot be bought in any store. It is usually made by yourself, at home, or ordered in advance from milk bars.
Where will you see the best Christmas decorations? – At your neighbor’s house.
Decorating a town for the holidays usually involves hanging modest lights on lanterns and putting up a large Christmas tree in the local square. The places where we will see the most magnificent decorations are the gardens and balconies of our neighbors.
Everyone prepares ornaments according to their own ideas. Usually, there is no shortage of lights, chains, and baubles. Also popular are inflatable balloons in the shape of snowmen and Santa Clauses.
What does giving Christmas gifts look like in Poland?
The way Christmas gifts are given depends on the region. Some places just content themselves with gifting loved ones on December 6, St. Nicholas Day. However, in recent years it has also become popular to leave gifts under the Christmas tree.
In most homes, it is assumed that the mentioned Santa Claus brings them, but in the north of the country, his role is taken over by the Starman. In the south, on the other hand, houses are visited by an invisible Angel who smuggles gifts during the Christmas Eve supper.
People living on the eastern border expect a visit from Grandfather Frost, while in some places gifts are left by the newborn Jesus Christ himself. In either case, the goodies must be earned by being polite throughout the year.