How to decorate a Polish Christmas Tree (II)

Read the first part.

I've received quite a few posts from readers asking how do we decorate a Christmas tree in Poland. These two articles should answer the question.

What are the most popular Christmas ornaments?

Polish Christmas tree decorations have a long historical tradition. There is even an art school how to make Polish ornaments. On the web you can find several links to Polish companies exporting Christmas ornaments all around the world. This link is in Polish, but almost every company has an English version of their homepage. Use the short Polish-English Dictionary of Christmas terms at the end of this article to better understand the Polish words and find what is of interest to you.

Besides round balls and shaped balls (they were shown in part I ), molded balls (Santa Claus, birds) are also very popular. If you access the link to the Polish companies above you will see many examples of molded ornaments. What are the traditional patterns on the ornaments? Usually they are very gentle patterns and colors with lots of curves and flowery lines. Please, look below, here is another example of beautifully shaped balls and also a doll in a traditional costume from A.S.Vitrum Art Studio.

During the last couple of years patriotic logos and symbols on the balls became more popular. Learn how Christmas ornaments are produced. This website shows glass blowing, silvering and painting.
Polish traditional Christmas tree contains more, not only balls and lights! As I pointed out before, children are involved in preparing Christmas decorations. When I was a child, we painted empty eggs shells in different patterns. Such blown eggs could be used as a body of an angel, harlequin or bird and hung on the tree. We made vases by cutting them from colored papers. The method we were using was the same as the famous Polish paper-cutting art .

Almost all companies that produce Christmas decorations were small private companies who were striving during Communist times.

Communists tried to diminish the importance of Christmas since it was a religious feast. HERE is a history of the struggle and survival of one company, Komozja, during communism (in English).

It is so easy to buy Christmas decorations in stores that some old and good traditions are going to be forgotten soon. I still remember how much fun was to make colorful chain for Christmas tree. My siblings and I were always hoping to have the biggest tree possible as the compensation for our long chain!

My family usually spent Christmas holidays in my mother's family home. It was a big, old house with a garden. One year we were sick and could not go there on Christmas. Instead we had to spend Christmas in our apartment in Krakow. I remember my disappointment because the Christmas tree in the apartment was so small only about two feet high. One could barely see it from behind the table holding our Christmas supper. But, our apartment was so small (fifty something square meters) and there were five of us living there with all the furniture and items of daily life so we just did not have enough room for a big tree! The reality of life in Poland was cruel!

When all the Christmas decorations, candies and lights were on the tree, angel hair or cotton pieces were placed on tree branches to imitate snow. Finally, the gifts were put under the tree just before supper so that the kids would not see them too early.

There were some variations in Christmas celebration depending on the region of Poland. Not only in food and the amount of served dishes but also in a way how Christmas gifts were distributed and who was bringing these gifts!

In Silesia (Southwestern part of Poland) children were told to be quiet during supper so that they would not scare baby Jesus to place gifts under the tree. But in Warsaw it was Santa Claus - not the baby Jesus who put the gifts under the Christmas tree. Read more about
Who and When is bringing Gifts to Polish children during Christmas Season?

Read about Flowers and other Decorations for Christmas (called stroik ). See wonderful Polish paper-cuts designs for Christmas on the internet or you may purchase a book.

After Christmas supper and after unwrapping the gifts, we all gathered around the Christmas tree and sang Christmas carols for the first time in this season. It finally felt as like the Christmas really began!

Read more about Polish Christmas. and also about Polish regional costumes

Short Dictionary of Christmas Terms:

English = Polish

Christmas = Boze Narodzenie
Christmas Tree = choinka
Christmas Tree Decoration = ubieranie choinki
blown eggs = wydmuszki
balls = bombki
paper-cutting art = wycinanki
(Polish) Christmas ornaments = (polskie) ozdoby choinkowe
Christmas Eve = Wigilia
Check also beautiful Polish handmade Christmas decorations for sale.

written by Jagoda Urban-Klaehn (article #71).

Check our
Christmas Music Store for a wide selection of Polish and Polish-American carols and also some Christmas books

The book with Polish Paper Cut Designs can be useful for you. Check Polish Wycinanki Designs by by Frances Drwal.

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