Polish Christmas FAQ - Frequently Asked Questions
Is it true that Poles do not really sing Christmas Carols until the Christmas Day?
Yes, Poland is mainly a Catholic country. Roman Catholic Church observes Advent. Advent is a time of fasting and restricted entertainment. There are no Christmas parties before Christmas season in Poland. However there are few occasions in time of Advent when the restrictions of Advent are loosen a bit: St. Andrew night (Andrzejki) on November 30, St. Barbara Day - celebrated as mining feast, December 4 and St. Nicolaus night on December 6th.
Polish Christmas carols are very old and beautiful. Please, read more about its origin and see their selections in the article: http://culture.polishsite.us/articles/art125fr.htm Polish Christmas Music, Decorations, Greeting Cards & Crafts Store
Advent season in Poland is very rich in religious accents. Read about Religious Aspects of Polish Christmas - Roraty.
Does Christmas in Poland lasts until February 2nd, the Groundhog Day?
Christmas timeframe in Poland is very different than in the USA. Christmas season starts on Christmas Eve but does not finish on January 6th with a feast of the Epiphany (Three Kings). Polish Christmas finishes on February 2nd with Candlemas Service. This day is devoted to Purification of Our Lady, people carry candles to the church. The Groundhog Day, although it coincides with Candlemas day, is unknown in Poland. Read more about Christmas Timeframe, Advent and ...Temptations and about unusual Timeframe and Traditions of Polish Christmas.
If Santa Nicolaus (Claus) Day is celebrated on December 6th - do children receive any gifts for Christmas?
Poles are very attached to the tradition of saints. Every day in calendar has its patron. Read more about it in the article Birthday and Namesday Celebration in Poland. The St. Nicolaus day is December 6th and it this day children are given gifts from Santa. Polish children usually receive also gifts on Christmas Eve - but it is either baby Jesus, angel or starman who brings presents on this day, depending on the region of Poland. Please, read more about it in the article: Who and When brings Gifts to Polish Children during Christmas Season.
What is more important for Poles - the Christmas Eve (December 24) or the Christmas day(December 25)?
Poles wait so long through Advent that... Christmas Eve is really important for Poles. Christmas Eve is a family gathering, sharing of oplatek, eating fish and awaiting for baby Jesus to come. Christmas Eve is also a time of sharing the gifts. Please read more about it in the article: Christmas in Poland - Christmas Eve (Wigilia). Christmas Day is a time of joy, visiting extended family and friends and also attending the Church service.
What Poles eat for Christmas?
Since Christmas Eve (Wigilia) is a last day of Advent Poles are eating only fish that evening, meat is not allowed since this is still the fasting time, time of hope for baby Jesus to be born, time of expactation. There are two types of fish - carp (delicious, you must try! Poles have special ponds where they cultivate carp) and also herring. In some regions of Poland only odd number or dishes is served (for instance 11), in other regions - only even number of dishes (12). Many Christmas dishes are served this only during this time of the year since they are really ancient dishes which are prepared for Christmas for generations. The most popular dishes except fish are soups - made of mushroom, borscht or cabbage, poppy cakes, pierogi (dumplings), kutia, prunes compote. My family prepares a soup called "siemieniotka" which is prepared from hemp seed (siemie) with buckwheat groats (kasza gryczana). Read more about Christmas food in the articles and Polish Christmas - Traditions, Family, and Food.
What are the most important and unusual customs of Polish Christmas?
There are many traditions which are local and known only in a certain region of Poland, but some customs are known all through Poland. One of the habit which is known all through Poland is sharing oplatek and good wishes with everybody present before starting Christmas supper. Another tradition states that the Christmas vigil (supper) does not start until the first star in the sky is visible. In Poland it is believed that animals can speak with the human voice during Christmas. There is an extra seat left at the Christmas table in case a stranger would knock at the door since nobody should be alone in that day. Poles also put some hay under their tablecloths. They often participate in the midnight service, sometimes a trip to the country church in the middle of winter night is a real adventure remembered at least until the next year midnight service. Januray 6th, on the Three Kings Day Poles mark their doors with K+M+B symbols which are the initials of the three kings that are believed to visit baby Jesus. There are so many Christmas traditions and there is no room to describe them all here. But you can find much more information by searching through Christmas articles' selection.
Check also the most recent addition to Christmas theme, the Polish Star Christmas Story, check also the articles about How to decorate a Polish Christmas Tree and Christmas's Pagan & Folk Traditions.
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