Celebrating Christmas in Poland: A Special Christmas Edition

Poland Rynek Christmas

© Kingary/flickr

Smell of mulled wine fills the air, especially in the month of December. That’s when Krakow holds the largest Christmas Market in Poland. Travelers and visitors internationally are here at the Market Square. The lights are breathtaking, you feel like you are in one of those pre-Christmas Santa movies where miracles happen and the whole world is full of beauty and perfection… so yeah, it’s quite pretty. 🙂

 

 

Wigilia 

You must know, the Christmas Eve is called the Wigilia in Poland and it is the most important in the entire season. The Poles observe certain customs and traditions and there are some interesting ones to share with you here. It begins with the waiting for the first star to come up in the sky. This is a tradition where the people will wait for it and then the sharing of the wafer with a holy picture on it called ‘oplatek’ while exchanging good wishes.

The Christmas meal

The other tradition is the reserving of an empty seat at the table for a wanderer who might be in need. There are locals who place a basket of hays remembering the animals in the stables as well. A very nice way and it shows how kind natured the Poles having a tradition as this.

As the meal is with lots of food, it is advisable to fast through the day until the Christmas meal itself. Good luck is carried throughout the dishes in this special meal, from what are eaten and followed to this day. Raw herring with onions, beetroot soup, dumplings with sauerkraut and mushrooms, fried carp steaks, cabbage with mushrooms, mixed vegetable salad, noodles with poppy seeds and poppy seed cake. Ending with the dry fruit compote being the traditional dessert. It is a stew of 12 dried fruits representing the 12 apostles.

At the Christmas Markets in Poland 

It has a very lively atmosphere, everywhere there are offers of horse carriage rides, Christmas decorations, handmade crafts and most of all Polish Christmas decorations. Polish gift items that is special to buy for a good friend is the ‘dry fruit compote’ that makes a great edible gift (but it needs refrigeration.)

Bigos, The Hunter’s Stew 

Poland Bigos

©Benedict W/flickr

If you are hungry, there are stalls selling delicious cold-weather Polish food such as Bigos (or Hunter’s Stew). It is made of white cabbage, sauerkraut or kapusta kiszona in Polish, cut of sausages and meat that varies from smoked pork, ham, veal, venison or other game, beef, pureed tomatoes, mushrooms and honey. Seasoned with caraway, pepper, bay leaf, juniper berries, pimento, marjoram, smoked plums. Rye bread goes best with the Bigos, but you can eat it with mash potatoes too.

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