LearnPolishwith Us!Start Learning!
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:)
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 .