Christmas Traditions in Poland

Merry Christmas from Poland! Well being our first real Christmas here, I am learning all sorts of Christmas traditions in Poland which are unique to me.

First up that is unique to me is that Christmas Eve is the BIG day not Christmas Day. Today is the day when they eat, open presents, eat some more, have a few shots of vodka and then finally midnight Christmas church service.  We will not be doing this tradition as we will be having friends over for dinner tomorrow , we don’t drink vodka, and be our church does not do midnight church service.

Christmas wafers.

The next unique thing is that before they sit down to eat, they have tradition to share the Christmas Eve wafer with your loved ones, exchanging holiday wishes for the new year.   We will be doing this traditional this year but just on Christmas Day.

  Did I mention they eat today?  A traditional Christmas Eve meal is made up of 12 dishes, CRAZY!!!  On the menu usually is soup (borscht) and pierogis, to a variety of fish which includes carp and many different versions of herring.  Yes there are also deserts which typically made of poppy-seed.  We will be trying this tradition this year just that I will be doing typical American and Polish food.

Yes, they keep them in their bathtubs for a few days!

NOW this for me is the crazy part of their Christmas menu, carp fish.   I remember growing up as a kid when we went fishing we would throw this fish back into the lake.  They do not go freezer section and buy it frozen nor do they go to grocery store and get fresh filets of carp,  people here buy them alive.  Then keep the carp in their bathtub and then kill and clean them by themselves, once again CRAZY!!!

To keep some of the old traditions, some families put hay under the tablecloth, a tradition which dates back to pagan harvest celebrations, and many put an extra table setting for a wandering stranger.

Just like many families back home in the U S, singing Christmas carols is a standard staple of a Polish Christmas Eve.  While my family growing we were not singers we listened to them on records, tapes, and CD’s (boy did I just age myself!)

Well I need to run as I have one more type of cookie, a pie, a cake and cinnamon rolls yet to make for our BIG day tomorrow and a house to clean.

AND if you are in the Bydgoszcz area and need a good laugh, watch TVP (I think) tomorrow night’s news as they are coming over to my house to do a story about American’s celebrating Christmas in Poland.

What is one family tradition that you have passed one to your children or will pass on to your future kids?  Me,  baking Christmas cookies and then giving them out to friends, family and neighbors.


love kelley
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8 Responses to Christmas Traditions in Poland

  1. Hanna says:

    Polish people cant drink vodka on Christmas Eve , plus we have 2 days of Christmas. Everything else sounds about right.
    Wesołych Swiat Bożego Narodzenia!

    • Hanna,

      they don’t drink vodka on Christmas Eve? Well then must on Christmas Day because when we were at the grocery store earlier today people were stocking up on vodka, beer and wine. The funny thing is that I ran out of sugar at 17.00 my time today and tried to hopefully catch a store open to get some but everything was already closed except for EVERY liquor store that I drove past. So while it my not be vodka, Polish still like their liquor!

  2. pik33 says:

    Traditionally they go at 12pm to the church, and then is time to drink (a lot of) vodka. It may be difficult to buy it at 1am, so better is to buy it earlier. 25 and 26 December near all shops are closed.

  3. Adam says:

    Vodka on Christmas Eve – maybe, but I haven`t heard about this……

  4. Jim says:

    You really should try the Polish vodka! There are so many flavours and varieties!

  5. Pingback: Wesołych Świąt or Merry Christmas Never a Dull Day in Poland

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