Judging by the weather, the mild temperatures and constant change between sunshine and grey clouds and rain, one would assume it is April and the cold winter is behind us. Most certainly, the weather does not provide a Christmassy feeling, but yes folks, the street and shop decorations are not an April fools joke. It is in fact December and in 2 days it will be Christmas.
If you spend your Christmas in Poland or with Poles somewhere abroad, you may want to get accustomed with some of the Polish Christmas traditions.
The Christmas holidays commence on the 24th of December, not on the 25th as in the UK for example. Christmas Eve is an important part of Polish Christmas. The whole family gathers around the dinner table and no excuse will be valid not to be present. Different regions of Poland follow different traditions but there are traditions that most regions share:
Twelve dishes: With reference to the twelve apostles a Polish Christmas dinner table should have 12 dishes on it. The dishes are usually made up of Herring, Carp (most popular) dumplings, borscht, and much more. Each person at the table should try all of the dishes served. It is believed to bring good luck for the next 12 months.
Extra seat at the table: Nobody likes to be unprepared, particularly for the unexpected. Therefore, it is part of Polish Christmas tradition to prepare one seat at the table, including dish and cutlery, for an unexpected guest.
Hay on the table: People in Poland sometimes spread out hay across the table and cover it with the tablecloth. It is believed that the reason for the hay is that Jesus was born on a stable.
Presents: Poland shared the gift-giving tradition with many of it’s European neighbors, such as Germany for example. Unlike in the UK or the US, gifts are being exchanged on the evening of the 24th of December.
Midnight Mass: One of the most important Christmas traditions in Poland is midnight mass. People gather at church at midnight 24th/25th of December to commemorate shepherds on their way to Bethlehem.
Christmas Eve is followed by the 1st and 2nd day of Christmas, 25th and 26th of December. Both days are official public holidays and families use these days to get together, go to church and when returning home, continue to have large feasts with their loved ones. Depending on the weather, this time is also spend outdoors in parks or by talking long walks.
The Łódź Post wishes everyone a Merry Christmas!