Thursday, March 30, 2017
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Christmas in Hamtramck in Polish-American Family - Childhood Memories

Children today mark the opening day of the Christmas two days after Halloween. When I was a child in Hamtramck (Michigan, near Detroit) the Christmas Season began at the most, two weeks before Christmas. It seemed that the snow was piled up to at least nose height and the air was cold and crisp. The daytime was not very exciting but evening and nighttime brought a different, magical quality to an otherwise mundane city. It was during that time that my family and other families would stroll through the commercial district. Stroll? yes, stroll. The world was just coming out of the Depression and now we were engaged in a world war. Who had a car or needed one?

Read more: Christmas in Hamtramck in Polish-American Family - Childhood Memories


Christmas's Pagan and Folk Traditions

Christianity was not the first system of values and beliefs in Europe and in the world. The change from one system of values to the other is never easy. When the Church could not replace the old system of values completely it tried to embrace and modify it in the Christian tradition. The example of a feast that had pagan roots but was embraced by the church is summer solstice. First, the Catholic Church was against it. The monks were even organizing the processions against it and people who took parts in the ceremonies (called also Sobotka) were threaten with blasphemy. Later the Church shifted the celebration 2-3 days later into the night of St. John and the pagan cult of fire was transformed into the celebration of the light of the bible.

Read more: Christmas's Pagan and Folk Traditions


Christmas Season Ends with Candlemas Service - February 2

When Polish Christmas starts and ends?

In Poland there is no Thanksgiving like in the USA. So, there is no any special shopping day starting Christmas season especially since Christmas is preceded by a season of Advent in which any dancing and frolicsome parties is prohibited by a Church. Advent is a time of fasting, prayer, reflection, mourning and reconciliation. However there are few feasts during this season, which is in discord with the solemn atmosphere of Christmas, even Church has to treat it with understanding. These feasts are described in the earlier articles - St. Andrew Day (November 30th), St. Barbara Day (December 4th) and St. Nicolas (Santa Claus) Day (December 6th) , please, click the appropriate title to see the article.

Read more: Christmas Season Ends with Candlemas Service - February 2


Christmas Ornaments in Poland: Polish Christmas Tree

How should a Polish Christmas tree look like?

Bombka ChoinkowaWhen I was growing up in Poland in the late 1960 and 1970s quite a number of trees were cut from Polish forests before Christmas season, both, firs and spruces. Firs were the most admired, but too many were cut, so that finally the sale of these trees was banned. Presently, due to environmental concerns and because of improved technology, Polish Christmas trees just like American trees - are usually artificial and can serve for many years and many Christmases. But a real Christmas tree should be tall enough to reach a ceiling after it is put on a stand and topped with a star or a pointed ornament.

When to decorate a Polish Christmas Tree?

Polish Christmas season has a different time period than American Christmas. Although Poles start Christmas shoppings long before Christmas they do not organize Christmas parties and do not decorate Christmas tree because of the Advent season. So Polish Christmas season does not start a month before Xmas like in the USA. Poles decorate the Christmas tree the day, two before Christmas Eve but it lasts longer. Christmas officially terminates on the 2nd of February in Poland. Read more about it in the article entitled: Christmas Time, Advent and ...Temptations.

Read more: Christmas Ornaments in Poland: Polish Christmas Tree


How to decorate a Polish Christmas Tree

I've received several posts from readers asking how do we decorate a Christmas tree in Poland. These two articles should answer the question.

What are the most popular Christmas ornaments?

Polish Christmas tree decorations have a long historical tradition. There is even an art school how to make Polish ornaments. On the web you can find several links to Polish companies exporting Christmas ornaments all around the world. This link is in Polish, but almost every company has an English version of their homepage. Use the short Polish-English Dictionary of Christmas terms at the end of this article to better understand the Polish words and find what is of interest to you.

Read more: How to decorate a Polish Christmas Tree


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