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     How to Observe Polish Christmas Eve Customs
        courtesy of

    The major Christmas celebration in Poland takes place on "Wigilia," which is Christmas Eve. Traditionally, Wigilia is a time for forgiveness and a fresh start. A 12-dish, meatless dinner is served before other festivities begin.

    Steps: 1. Clean the house and trim the Christmas tree during the daylight hours. In rural Poland, these are traditional Christmas Eve activities, and Poles fast until dinnertime.

    2. Decorate according to Polish folklore: Hang mistletoe over the front door to ward off evil; place wheat in the dining room corners and under the tablecloth to chase away misery.

    3. Set the table with a white tablecloth. Set one extra place setting to remember absent family members or accommodate an unexpected guest. According to custom, the dinner begins with a prayer and sharing of blessed Oplatek bread to represent Communion.

    4. Light the tree and serve dinner (see "How to Prepare a Traditional Polish Christmas Eve Dinner") after the first star appears in the sky. The first star commemorates the birth of Christ and represents the star of Bethlehem.

    5. Exchange gifts after dinner is finished.

    6. Give the family pet a special treat after dinner, as in Poland the head of the household would take a treat of dinner leftovers to the animals in the barn. Polish folklore explains that animals can speak in human voices on Christmas Eve.

    7. Sing Polish Christmas carols. Carolers in Poland visit neighborhood households from Christmas Eve through the end of the holiday season on January 6, the Feast of the Three Kings.

    8. Enjoy a brisk sleigh ride with friends and family, and serve refreshments afterward. In Poland, this is known as a "kulig."

    click here for Polish recipes - click here for Christmas recipes

    Polish Holiday Cookery
    Polish Holiday Cookery Polish Holiday Cookery and Customs acquaints readers with traditional Polish foods associated with various occasions and furnished countless cooking tips and serving suggestions. The clearly written recipes facilitate the preparation of the dishes and their incorporation in the Polish-American mainstream culture. Calendar of Polish Festivities is devoted to those holidays and events connected to a specific time of year. Polish Rites of Passage focuses on life's milestones--the family occasions that take place at various times of year. This "instruction manual for the culturally aware Polish American" offers more than 400 recipes, along with a lexicon of basic foods and culinary concepts, ingredients and procedures, and sample menus.


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