Thursday, December 18, 2014

Polish Christmas Traditions

My husband is 100% Polish and if you meet him, you'd know that right away. He's super proud of his heritage and loves keeping the Polish traditions alive in our little family. He was the first in his family born in the states, and I'm the first American to marry in. Most of John's family still lives in Poland, but his parents, brothers, and two aunts/uncles live in the states. Thank goodness for Skype - although they don't speak English so it's basically just John translating everything. :)

Some of my favorite traditions from John's family are during Christmas. Lucky for us, his traditions are mostly on Christmas Eve and my family's were on Christmas day, so we've been able to blend them all together nicely. :)  His parent's are from the Bytom and Nowy Targ regions in southern Poland, so these traditions might be different if you know people from Northern Poland.

Polish Christmas Traditions -

1. Christmas Eve in Polish is Wigilia (vey-gill-ee-ah).  There are a lot of little superstitions for the day - waking up late on Wigilia means you'll be late to everything in the coming year, you always have change in your pocket so you'll have finances throughout the year, etc.  So there's a lot of pressure to wake up early and in a good mood! ;)  It is a day of relaxing, eating a huge dinner, and going to a Christmas Vigil celebration at church.

2. Before sitting down for dinner, our family exchanges oplatek (o-pwa-tek), which is a Christmas wafer. Each family member gets a wafer and works their way around the table to each person. We make amends, apologize for any wrongdoings, and wish them happiness and health in the upcoming year. Once everything is said, you break off a piece of their wafer while they break a piece off of yours. Then you can eat your piece and go to the next person. I love doing this, and Abby has already been practicing with the oplatek she found. :)

Polish Christmas Traditions -

3. For food, it's all meatless. John's family always had the traditional Polish pierogi, beet soup, and pickled herring...which is really not up our alley. We still don't have meat - we have tilapia, vegetables, rice, and lots of dessert. :)

4. After dinner, the kids go outside with the dads to look for the Pierwsza Gwiazdka (first star in the sky), which symbolizes the Star of Bethlehem. While the kids are occupied, the moms set up all the presents around the tree. For us, it's a little too cold to go outside, so John takes Abby and Tim to a room not by the tree (can't have them see the magic happening! ;)).  We aren't doing all of our gifts on Christmas Eve, just new pajamas for everyone and a new book to read before bed. When the presents are ready, a bell is rung on the tree - this means Santa has come, and then the kids can come to the tree to open their presents!

5. Swiety Mikolaj is the Polish Santa Claus. We have a PNA (Polish National Alliance) chapter in our city, and every year we have a Wigilia party. This year, Abby was not so sure about Santa, but Tim loved him (mainly his beard!).  This party is so much fun - we really look forward to it every year!!

Polish Christmas Traditions -
Tim and Santa at our city's Wigilia party :)

What are your favorite Christmas traditions? Anyone else from a Polish family?? :)
Happy Friday!

Polish Christmas Traditions -

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Sharing with CaitKatieAnnie, and Lisa for their Holiday Link Up
5 on Friday/Friday Faves along with DarciNatashaChristinaApril,  
JennieLauren ElizabethKarliAmyAndreaErika, and Narci


  1. I always love learning about different traditions--your post is particularly interesting to me because I'm of Polish decent (my grandparents were from Poland). I love the idea of exchanging the wafers and apologizing for any wrongdoings, etc. What a nice "fresh start" kind of idea!
    Thanks for sharing this with us!!

  2. That's so cool! I love reading about other cultures and how they celebrate :)
    Jessi @

  3. these are such fun traditions! all of our family traditions are pretty american! xo jillian - stop by! I'm hosting a Peanut Butter & Co. giveaway on cornflake dreams

  4. Traditions are great! I can't wait to start some with our little girl.

    P.S. I’m giving away a Hamilton Beach Stack and Snap Food Processor on the blog. Hope you join in the fun!

    Have a great weekend!

  5. I love hearing everyone's traditions! It's so nice that you and your husband are continuing his Polish traditions with your children.

  6. I love your family traditions!!! We are trying to start our some of our own this year!!
    Chelsea @

  7. I'm finally catching up on reading, and I loved hearing these traditions! Shines a lot more light on it than the VeggieTales song about the Polish foods of Christmas.

  8. I'm from Northern part of Poland, but all the Christmas Eve traditions are basically the same :) I love your Christmas bauble with beautiful lowicz pattern. I'm crazy about this pattern!



  9. I love that pattern too! Do you still have family in Poland? We're hoping to head over there in the next few years to visit my husband's family :)

  10. Hubby's parents and siblings still live there :)
    Hope you'll have a great time in Poland!


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