Polish Language Blog

Carp in the bathtub? Posted by on Dec 24, 2019 in Culture

As most of you know, carp (karp) has a special place on the table during Christmas in Poland. It is one of the main dishes and you just simply have to have it.

But getting from river (or carp farm) to table is not so simple. As the tradition goes, the Christmas carp must first swim in the family bathtub for at least a day or two before being killed, cleaned and prepared.

Known as Wigilia supper, the meal is the biggest culinary event in the Polish calendar. Generations come together to proudly prepare the 12 course feast (one dish for each of the 12 apostles) and tradition has it you must try some of everything to ensure prosperity for each month of the year ahead.

Carp is commonly fried in breadcrumbs or baked for Wigilia. It also served “Greek style”, with tomato sauce and vegetables. And of course “karp w galarecie”(carp in the jelly/aspic) is on the table as well.

Image courtesy pixabay.com


In Poland, many carp are still sold live in supermarkets (to the dismay of animal rights protesters), and the fish are often kept in the family bathtub before ending up on the dinner table. I remember having carp in the bathtub in my house growing up! Kids loved to watch the carp there and “touch” the live fish! It was like having an aquarium for few days…:) Hopefully you had more than one bathroom, taking a bath with the carp doesn’t sound like a lot of fun!

I asked my friends to share pictures with me…and it looks like tradition is still alive!

Image courtesy my friend Janusz!

Image courtesy my friend Małgosia!

So if you are visiting Polish house around Christmas time, don’t be surprise if you find carp swimming in the bathtub:)

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About the Author: Kasia

My name is Kasia Scontsas. I grew near Lublin, Poland and moved to Warsaw to study International Business. I have passion for languages: any languages! Currently I live in New Hampshire. I enjoy skiing, kayaking, biking and paddle boarding. My husband speaks a little Polish, but our daughters are fluent in it! I wanted to make sure that they can communicate with their Polish relatives in our native language. Teaching them Polish since they were born was the best thing I could have given them! I have been writing about learning Polish language and culture for Transparent Language’s Polish Blog since 2010.