Christmas traditions in Poland First star, beautifully decorated Christmas tree and the wafer are the most important symbols of Christmas. The meaning of these symbols and traditions connected with them should be known by everybody
First Star It is the symbol of the first star, which appeared when Jesus was born. Thanks to it, the shepherds, Three Kings, could reach the place of the saviour's birth. We are waiting for the first star today, which will appear in the sky. When it shines, then, according to tradition, we can sit down at the Christmas table and share the wafer.
Wafer Its name is connected with the Latin word “oblatum” which means a gift. This is just a thin piece of crunchy wheat flour and water. There are Christmas scenes on it. The tradition of sharing bread derives from pagan traditions. Now it is a Christian custom, and we share the wafer before the Christmas supper. When we give wishes to each other, we shall forgive all the faults, and sit at the table with clear hearts.
Christmas hay We put it under the white table-cloth on the table where we have Christmas supper. It is a symbol of a place where Jesus was lying after his birth, a shed and hay.
Christmas tree It is usually decorated on Christmas Eve or on 23 December. Once these were the ornamented sheaves of hay or branches. Then the custom of bringing decorated trees into houses came to other Christian countries from Germany. Christmas decorations should be connected with symbols of Christmas, and on its top people hang a big bauble. Once these were apples, now we have glass baubles. The green tree is the symbol of the Saviour’s birth. We can turn on the fairy light when the first star is in the sky.
Carols We begin to sing them at Christmas table. These are the songs telling about the Lord's birth. Their name comes from Latin word “calendae” which meant the first day of month. First they were sung by the Romans, then Christians started to sing them. The oldest Polish Christmas carol is “Farewell, the King of Angels”, and it dates from about 1420
Silent Night Silent night, holy night All is calm, all is bright Round yon Virgin Mother and Child Holy Infant so tender and mild Sleep in heavenly peace Silent night, holy night! Shepherds quake at the sight Glories stream from heaven afar Heavenly hosts sing Alleluia! Christ, the Saviour is born Silent night, holy night Son of God, love's pure light Radiant beams from Thy holy face With the dawn of redeeming grace Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth
Presents For many people this is the most pleasant Christmas custom. And this is what is mainly associated with Christmas. This custom was connected with St Nicolas, today, we consider them as gifts from a little Jesus.
Shed Jesus was born there. It is a symbol of us as well. We are like a small shed which is clean and where the evil alternates with the good. However, Jesus comes to the sheds, that means that He comes to us and gives us hope, love and faith. He is born in us!
Christmas Midnight Mass This is the traditional Mass which is celebrated at night from 24 on 25 December. It is a symbol of watching the Jesus’ birthplace by the shepherds. We take part in the mass with our families and this is the most important moment of Christmas time.