Polish Language Blog

My favorite Christmas Eve traditions in Poland Posted by on Dec 22, 2020 in Culture

We all have these absolutely special moments that we love about certain holidays. Christmas time in Poland is definitely full of amazing traditions and we all have our favorites!

Today I’m going to tell you about two things I miss the most about spending Christmas in Poland. Both of them are related to Wigilia (Christmas Eve), which is a very important day in Poland during Christmas.

One thing, that has always been in my memories of spending Christmas with my family back in Poland, was waiting for the first star in the sky!

You can’t even imagine how excited we (kids – dzieci) were to see that very special star in the sky on Christmas Eve! This very old Polish tradition honors the star of Betlehem (Betlejem) before the Christmas Eve festivities begin.

The first star (pierwsza gwiazda) signals the end of the Advent and once it is spotted, the special Christmas Eve feast begins! Often it is children who will be the ones who bear the news of the first Christmas star. And it was us: myself, my siblings and cousins! We all would get together at my grandparent’s house to celebrate Christmas. My grandparents lived close to our house, so it was only a couple minute drive.

I still remember this time as a very magical! The lights (światła), the decorations (dekoracje), the smell of all baked goods (zapach wszystkich wypieków), family gatherings (spotkania rodzinneand time spent with my cousins.. (czas spędzony z kuzynami…). I think back about it and I really appreciate all of this hard work of my parents: they made it all so magical!

My 2 girls waiting for the first star in the sky!

Let me tell you more thing about the first star… We were not “allowed” to sit down and have Christmas Eve dinner until the very first star appeared in the sky! What an excitement! I literally remember all cousins sitting by the window and looking out for the first star! Of course we knew the story of the Betlehem star, but being kids: we were just super hungry!!!

A lot of my friends here in USA ask me:” What if it was a cloudy night?”  Well, I have to admit that there was not even one Christmas without that amazing star in the sky! We always found one!

I tell this story to my two girls and they absolutely love it! And with the “Betlehem” star appearing in the sky for the first time last night in years (I guess 2020 is special in may ways!!!), it was even more amazing🎄❤️.

Another Polish Christmas tradition is sharing a wafer before Christmas Eve dinner. That wafer is called “opłatek” (a symbol of Christ in the manger).

Opłatek! Image by pasja1000 from Pixabay

After spotting the first star, we would sit at the dinner table and say a prayer. In the middle of the table there was a plate with the wafer, broken in few pieces (enough pieces for everyone). Everyone got a piece of wafer and before we started eating – we all had to go around the table with our wafers and share part of it with all family members (may not work these days with Coronavirus). You could have not skip anyone: that means you had to have a nice word for everyone. You would typically say what is it you are thankful for, wish someone else good health, or ask for forgiveness (if there was an argument between you and someone else).

The sharing of bread with another person was sharing all that is good with life … It was a time to tell each other: “I love you, I care about you.”

Those are my 2 favorite Christmas memories. What are yours?

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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.


  1. Pam Prophet:

    This year will be a special first star!!! I will be sure to participate in your tradition this Christmas eve!