Monday, May 22, 2017
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Polish Christmas:Traditions, Family, and Food

It hardly seems possible that once again I am writing a Christmas column! For some reason it seems the same main ideas and thoughts keep coming to mind. When my Babci Stella Grochowski was alive there were always a lot of wonderful treats at the holidays. She thought nothing of kneading by hand huge bowls of yeast dough for babka, paczki, and pierogi. She passed away over 20 years ago, but it seems like only yesterday that I watched her roll yeast dough in her spotless kitchen.

Now it is my job to make many of these family traditions. Much reading and experimenting with recipes has given us the directions for the many breads and cakes she made by memory or touch.

Read more: Polish Christmas:Traditions, Family, and Food


Who and When brings Gifts to Polish Children during Christmas Season

Every region has its own tradition. In some regions of Poland the gifts are given to the children only on December 6th - since St. Nicolaus called also Santa Claus is a patron of this day. Read more about St. Nicolaus tradition. But in the majority of houses children (and adults) can expect gifts twice- on December 6th and also on Christmas Eve. As you probably know St. Claus Day originates from orthodox religious tradition but it came to Poland probably from Holland. The atmosphere of this feast is different than the atmosphere of Christmas eve since December 6th is a normal working day. Whereas Christmas is usually celebrated as a family feast, St. Claus Day (December 6th) is rather social - with children and adults participating in Christmas parties at schools and offices.

Read more: Who and When brings Gifts to Polish Children during Christmas Season


Nativity Scenes from an Exhibition in Krakow

My first visit to Poland was in early December several years ago. My Ciocia (aunt), with whom we were staying in Krakow, sent us to walk to the old center of town. My sister and I were not quite sure what my Ciocia had in mind for us to see, but we obediently dressed warm and walked to the Rynek (Main Market Square). On this day, all people brought their Szopki (nativity scenes) for display, for competition and for a grand parade around the market place.

winner szopka competition 2010

Winner of Szopka competition 2010 in the category of large szopkas, built by Marek Markowski and his family. Click the picture to see it magnified.

Read more: Nativity Scenes from an Exhibition in Krakow


Polish Christmas: My Memories from Silesia

Since I moved to the USA, I miss the atmosphere of Christmas in Poland. I am not trying to say that the traditions of Polish Christmas are any better than the American Christmas. It is just that my childhood memories of Christmas with my family are dearest to me and cannot be replaced.

Read more: Polish Christmas: My Memories from Silesia


How Poles celebrate the New Year's Eve (Sylwester)

In Poland a New Year's Eve is called commonly sylwester. Every day in a Polish calendar is devoted to a saint. The celebration of the name is called namesday (Polish - imieniny). Often namesday is much more important in a life of a Pole than a birthday, except of some important birthdays like 18, 25, 50 etc. Since not every name has its saint but everybody want to have a namesday - some names are addigned to a calendar on a certain day even without a saint!

Read more: How Poles celebrate the New Year's Eve (Sylwester)


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