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Waiting for the first star in the sky during Wigilia Posted by on Dec 24, 2017 in family, Holidays, traditions

Many Poles wait until the first star appears in the sky before sitting down to eat on December 24th. This tradition commemorates the Star of Bethlehem, which according to the New Testament guided the Wise Men to the birthplace of Christ. Nowadays, with so many satellites circling around the Earth and reflecting light, its sometimes tricky to adhere to this tradition, but many families do their best. In my family this was always a tradition, we couldn’t sit down to the table on Christmas Eve until we spotted at least one star in the sky! All the kids were in the window waiting:)

My daughters waiting for this very special first star in the sky!

Once everybody sits down at the table to taste the delicious Christmas dishes you might notice that one place is still empty.  Many Poles still  leave an empty place set at the table in case a person down on luck should show up and ask for shelter. While this rarely happens nowadays, the tradition nevertheless requires that lone strangers be taken in and treated as family. And it is still a tradition in my family!

Among the 12 Christmas dishes you will always find some soup (the majority of Polish families eat soup every day). Its kind depends on the region but the most popular ones are: beetroot soup (barszcz) with “uszka” (a kind of ravioli), forest mushroom soup and fish or almond soup.

Other traditional dishes include: sauerkraut with forest mushrooms, pierogi (stuffed dumplings) with sauerkraut, jellied fish, kutia (wheatberry, poppy seed honey and nuts), herring in oil, different types pf pickled herring and makówki (poppy seed, honey and nuts).

Poles rarely drink alcohol to their Christmas supper. Instead, it is customary to drink compotemade of dried fruit (such as prunes, apricots, pears etc.). After dinner it’s the present time! Adults give each other gifts (or put them directly under the Christmas tree) and children, who had been absorbed by their food, find their presents hidden under the tree .

 

 

 

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About the Author:Kasia

My name is Kasia Scontsas. I grew up in 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.


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