Archive for 'traditions'

Writing a letter to Santa – List do Świętego Mikołaja!

Posted on 13. Dec, 2013 by in Holidays, Kids, traditions, Uncategorized

Whether known as Saint Nicholas, Sinterklaas, Father Christmas, Kris Kringle, Babbo Natale, Christkind, Père Noël, Santa Claus (“Santa”), Święty Mikołaj or by many other names, this legendary gift-giver in European folklore and hagiography is well known around the world.

list do mWriting a letter to Santa (List do Świętego Mikołaja) is among the numerous traditions surrounding Christmas. Although in 1889, Thomas Nast—the caricaturist credited with the modern portrayal of Santa—presented Santa reading letters from the parents of children in “Santa Claus’s mail,” writing to Santa is as much of a children’s ritual as sitting on his lap. The form of “Dear Santa letters” typically include: a testament of “nice” not “naughty” behavior, a wish-list of toys, courteous mention of Mrs. Claus and the elves, and concern for the reindeer (especially Rudolph).

Children in Poland, Japan, and Great Britain are allegedly the most prolific writers of letters to Santa. While sample letters are on Internet sites that also sell Santa stationery, far more common is the hand-written letter illustrated with Santas, reindeers, sleds, Christmas trees, presents, etc. Japanese children sometimes include pieces of origami with their letters. Addressed to Santa in the North Pole, Lapland, the Arctic Circle, the town of Santa Claus, Indiana, and elsewhere in the world, children’s letters are often answered by postal workers and charity volunteers. While children in Canada use a special postal code (H0H 0H0) those in Mexico and other Latin American countries send their letters attached to helium balloons. Since the turn of the 20th century children have also sent their Santa letters to newspapers where they have been reprinted in articles.

In Britain, there was a tradition that children use to burn their Christmas letters in the fire so that they can float up the chimney with the smoke and wind can then magically transport them to the North Pole, to Santa.

What is on your list to Santa this year?

Do następnego razu… (Till next time…)

Some important things to remember about Polish Christmas…

Posted on 03. Dec, 2013 by in Holidays, traditions

wigliatablesetHow to Keep Polish Christmas Traditions in your home?

Carrying on traditions from the “old country” is alive and well. Although we may not be able to create a given tradition as they did in the “old country”, just as their names were Americanized, so are the traditions. For the most part, in many countries, the traditions are centered around what you eat, who you are with and in which activity you are engaged. To keep Polish traditions alive during Christmas, try to remember about these 5 things (of course there is more to it, but these are simple…):

1. Eat no meat and drink no alcohol on Christmas Eve (known as Wigilia). This is the most important day of the holiday, as people await the arrival of Jesus.

2. Prepare your table with a white tablecloth and under the tablecloth have a few sprigs of hay. If you are very daring you can try pulling out a stem of hay. If the stem is green, there will be an early marriage; a short stem is an early death; a yellow one means no marriage and a withered one means a long wait. People usually leave one place at the table free, whether for someone who arrives unexpectedly or for a remembrance for those who have already passed. Be sure there are candles on the table.

3. When the first star appears in the sky, start a very splendid supper. This should be a preplanned 12 entree meal (The number twelve is in honor of Jesus’ twelve apostles.); what actually is eaten varies in the different regions of Poland, however, dishes should be vegetarian (fish and other water dwelling creatures were not considered meat). Usually this includes a clear barszcz (borsch) with uszka or a zupa grzybowa (mushroom soup); karp smażony (fried carp); sledź (different herring dishes); kapusta z grzybami – bigos without meat (cabbage with mushrooms); pierogi z kapustą i grzybami (pierogi with cabbage and mushrooms); groch z kapustą (cabbage with beans); kluski z makiem (pasta with poppy seeds) and ciasta (different cakes). The choice of drink is kompot(dried fruit). As much as this may not sound too appetizing, it has some kind of magic…Of course  I remember hiding coke under the table as a child….

4. Start the meal with a prayer and some reading from the Bible. An opłatek (a wafter that symbolises bread) should be shared along with a Christmas greeting.

5. Blow out the candles at the end of the meal. If the smoke from the candles drifted towards the piec (stove, most likely meaning the source of heat), then there would be a marriage; If the smoke goes towards the window, the harvest would be good; but if the smoke goes towards the door, there would be a death in the family.

There are so many other Polish traditions…I will write more about them soon.

Do następnego razu… (Till next time…)

Polish wedding vows

Posted on 28. Jan, 2013 by in Countries, Culture, Polish Language, traditions

My husband and I got married in Poland. It was a beautiful wedding! We had guests mainly from Poland, but about 18 of our family and friends from USA made it as well.

We thought about wedding vows (przysięga małżeńska) and which language should we use to say it. At the end we decided to say the vows each in our native language. The priest was also very nice and during the mass he said a lot of things in English, to feel my husband’s family more comfortable and welcomed.

If you ever decide to say your vows in Polish, here is the traditional way they are written ( i will add video with pronunciation). Of course you can choose to write your own vows:)

In church:

“Ja …(imię Pana Młodego) biorę Ciebie…(imię Panny Młodej) za żonę i ślubuję Ci miłość, wierność i uczciwość małżeńską, oraz że Cię nie opuszczę aż do śmierci. Tak mi dopomóż Panie Boże Wszechmogący w Trójcy Jedyny i Wszyscy Święci.”

“I … (name of the Groom) take you … (name of the Bride) to be my wife, and swear you love, marital fidelity and honesty and that I will not leave you until death do us part.. So help me Lord God Almighty in Trinity and All Saints.”

“Ja….(imię Panny Młodej) biorę Ciebie…  (imię Pana Młodego) za męża i ślubuję ci miłość, wierność i uczciwość małżeńską oraz że cię nie opuszczę aż do śmierci. Tak mi dopomóż Panie Boże Wszechmogący w Trójcy Jedyny i Wszyscy Święci.”

“I … (name of the Bride) take you … (name of the Groom) to be my husband, and swear you love, marital fidelity and honesty and that I will not leave you until death do us part. So help me Lord God Almighty in Trinity and All Saints.”

If you will have a wedding at the Urząd stanu cywilnego (USC) – it is like an office for JP –  here is what you usually say there:

“Świadomy praw i obowiązków wynikających z założenia rodziny, uroczyście oświadczam, że wstępuje w związek małżeński z (…imię Panny Młodej) i przyrzekam, że uczynię wszystko aby nasze małżeństwo, było zgodne, szczęśliwe i trwałe.”

I am aware of the rights and obligations of a family, solemnly declare that enters into marriage of (… name of the Bride) and I promise that I will do everything that our marriage was in line, happy and lasting.

“Świadoma praw i obowiązków wynikających z założenia rodziny, uroczyście oświadczam, że wstępuje w związek małżeński z (…imię Pana Młodego) i przyrzekam, że uczynię wszystko aby nasze małżeństwo, było zgodne, szczęśliwe i trwałe.”

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There are many similar versions though and you may have heard something different. These are very popular and I think most common as well.

Do następnego razu… (Till next time…)