Polish Christmas Traditions and Customs Polskie tradycje bożonarodzeniowe
Christmas traditions in Poland... Prezentacja przygotowana przez uczniów Szkoły Podstawowej im. gen. S. Taczaka w Wąsowie
THE FIRST STAR The first star (that is called: pierwsza gwiazdka) is a symbol of the Star of Bethlehem, whose appearance was accompanied by the birth of Jesus. Thanks to the Star of Bethlehem, the cowherds, the three Magi could reach to the place of birth of the Savior. Today, we expect the first star, which appears in the Christmas sky during Christmas Eve (that is called: Wigilia). Only when the first star appears in the sky, people take seats at the Christmas table, divide the holy wafer and exchange Christmas greetings.
SHARING THE HOLY WAFER Sharing the white wafer - this custom has polish origins. It refers to the ritual of sharing and distributing bread. Before the family starts eating, all its members share the holy wafer. It expresses love, friendship and reconciliation. The holy wafer is a thin wafer made of flour and water.
THE CHRISTMAS HAY The Christmas hay (that is called: sianko świąteczne) is placed under a white tablecloth on the table at which Christmas Eve dinner is organized. The Christmas hay symbolizes the place, the hay and the crib where Jesus was born.
12 DISHES The tradition in Poland says that during Christmas Eve dinner Poles serve 12 dishes. It symbolizes happiness. Why 12 dishes? That it is the number of Apostles. Another interpretation says, that it is the number of the months in the year. According to next one, the more dishes the more riches in the next year.
AN EMPTY PLACE FOR AN UNEXPECTED GUEST When the first star appears in the sky, people take seats at the Christmas table. They do not forget about leaving an empty place for an unexpected guest. No one should be left alone at Christmas, so strangers are welcomed to the Christmas supper. That is also an expression of the memory of our absent family members…
THE CHRISTMAS TREE The Christmas tree (that is called: choinka) dressed on Christmas Eve, December 23. Once the Christmas tree was adorned with bundles of hay, candles and apples, which are likely to symbolize the biblical parable of Adam and Eve. Today apples are replaced with glass baubles. The top of the Christmas tree is adorned with a star of Bethlehem. Green tree is a symbol of life and the birth of the Savior. Christmas tree lights should be switched on only after the First Star appeared on the sky.
CHRISTMAS CARROLS Poles like to sing Christmas carols (that is called: kolędy) at the Christmas table during Christmas Eve (that is called: Wigilia). Songs tell story about the birth of Jesus. Its name comes from the Latin word ‘calendae’ and means ‘the first day of the month”. The oldest Polish Christmas carol is “Be healthy The King”) - from 1420 year.
FATHER CHRISTMAS Father Christmas – a person who brings gifts... He’s known in some regions of Poland such as: Wielkopolska, Pomorze. In other Polish regions: Santa Claus, Little Angel, Baby or Jack Frost. In the Christian tradition the custom of gift giving is descended from Bishop of Myra. He gave presents to poor children...
PRESENTS One of the most important Christmas tradition, especially for kids is Christmas gifts – (that is called: prezenty świąteczne). Gifts should be placed under the Christmas tree when the first star appears. It is said, that little Jesus gives gifts…
THE CHRISTMAS STABLE Another tradition is The Stable – that is called “Stajenka”. Jesus was born in the stable and at Christmas time, all churches organize small stables inside, with figures of a newborn Jesus, Virgin Mary, St. Joseph, animals and other. The Christmas stable symbolizes us. We are like Christmas stable where good and bad are present. Jesus comes to us, gives us hope, love and faith. God is born in us as well!
CHRISTMAS EVE HOLY MASS Traditional Holy Mass is celebrated on the night of 24 to 25 December. This is very important one in Polish culture, so that it has its own name – “Pasterka”. Catholics, go to the church at midnight to attend the traditional midnight mass. It’s the most important moment during Christmas.
RECIPE FOR BEETROOT SOUP (BORSCHT) Ingredients: ½ ltrs (sour beets) 1 kg red beetroot (sliced) 60 g dried forest mushrooms vegetables: 1 onion, 1 garlic, 1 celery, 1 root parsley, 1 carrot salt, black pepper, sugar to taste Preparation: Peel the beets and cut into thin slices. Place slices in a big saucepan and pour warm water. Add a slice of wholemeal bread and garlic. Set aside. After a couple of days, pour into 1 bottle, close tightly. Combine vegetables, dried mushrooms, garlic, 3 cups of water in a big saucepan; bring to a boil. Add sliced beets and liquid from the bottle into the soup. Bring to a gentle boil - do not let the soup boil for more than a minute or it will lose its clear red color. Season with salt, black pepper, sugar to taste. Reheat before serving, making sure not to bring to a boil.
DUMPLINS WITH MUSHROOMS – „LITTLE EARS” Ingredients: 1 egg 200 g flour 100-200 g dried forest mushrooms salt to taste Preparation: Soak the dried forest mushrooms in 2 cups of hot water for at least 2-3 hours. Then, place mushrooms and 4 cups of water in a big saucepan; bring to a boil. Cover and cook about 20 minutes. Put mushrooms and set aside. Mix the flour with the egg yolk, adding water slowly and working it into the dough until a soft mass is formed. Keep kneading until the dough no longer sticks to your fingers. Roll out the dough into a thin layer on a floured surface and cut into 1 1/2 inch squares. Chop mushrooms and season with salt and pepper to taste; fry in butter. Make the mushroom fillings. Place a spoonful of the mushroom filling in the center of the square of dough, fold in half to form a triangle, and press the edges tightly to close. Then bring two corners of the triangle together and press tightly. Cook dumplings in boiling, salted water for 5 minutes, until they float to the top.
NOODLES WITH POPPYSEEDS Ingredients: DOUGH: - 300 g flour - water, salt FILLING: - 1 glass of poppy seeds - 3 tablespoons honey - 1 tablespoon fried orange peel - 2 tablespoons raisins - 1 tablespoon chopped hazelnuts Preparation: In a large bowl combine ingredients of dough. Bring the dough together, kneading well and adding more flour or water as necessary. Pin out dough, thoroughly. Cut out large pieces of dough roughly cm in square. Cook noodles at a time by dropping into the boiling water. Boil gently for about 12 minutes or until dumplings rise to the surfaced. Strain thoroughly. Grind poppy seeds twice. Mix ground poppy seeds with honey, raisins, nuts and orange peel, if using. Transfer to a saucepan and combine with dumplings.
FRIED CARP Ingredients: - 1,5 kg carp - 2 eggs - 5 tablespoons flour - 6 tablespoons bread crumbs - 1 lemon - 0,5 butter - salt, white pepper to taste Preparation: Clean the fish and divide into „ringtones”, season with salt and white pepper, drizzle with lemon juice. Coat the fish with the flour, eggs and the crumbs, shaking off the excess. Heat oil or fat to a depth of about 1cm in a large pan, add the fish and fry until golden brown and cooked through.
KUTIA (Christmas Cooked Wheat Pudding,) Ingredients: - 300 g shelled wheat berries - 100-200 g poppy seeds - ½ cup honey - hazelnuts, orange peel (chopped) - delicacies: raisins, dried dactyls, dried figs, almonds (chopped) Preparation: Soak wheat berries in two cups of hot water for two hours. Drain wheat berries and place in a pot. Cover with cold water, bring to a boil, reduce heat, and cook over low heat for two hours. Drain off in a sieve and set aside to cool. Cover poppy seeds with a cup of boiling water for 30 minutes. Grind poppy seeds in a food processor, or hand-cranked poppy seed grinder until the seeds start to show their white interiors. Add poppy seeds to the wheat berries and then add almonds, raisins, hazelnuts, dried dactyls, dried figs and honey. Mix well. Add more honey if needed. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Kutia is served with a white wafer.
HERRING IN OIL WITH ONION Ingredients: - 7 salt herring filets - 1 sliced onion - ½ cup sunflower oil - salt, pepper - juice of ½ lemon Preparation: Soak herring in milk for at least an hour. If very salty, repeat, changing the milk each time. Slice drained herring into bite-size pieces. Place in a bowl and cover with onion, oil, lemon juice and spices.
CARP IN ASPIC Ingredients: - 1 kg carp - 1 bouillon/broth cube - vegetables: 1 carrot, 1 root parsley,1 leaf parsley,1 celeriac, 1 leek; peeled and sliced into bite-size pieces. - raisins - 1 tablespoon gelatine - 1 carrot - 1 lemon -1 root parsley - allspice, 3 bay leafs - 3 glasses of water - salt, pepper to taste Preparation: Cut fish to pieces (shape of „bell”). Sprinkle fish with squeezed lemon and put aside to fridge. Meanwhile, place vegetables in a big saucepan; add 3 cups water. Add 3 bay leafs, allspice, salt and broth cube; bring to a boil. Put fish and boil about 40 minutes. Then, remove fish. Dissolve gelatin in two tablespoons hot water in a large bowl. Pour over the cooled fish. Chill thoroughly until firm.
SPLIT PEAS AND CABBAGE Ingredients: - ½ kg sauerkraut, (rinsed and drained) - head cabbage quarter, (shredded and steamed cabbage) - 300 g shelled peas - dried forest mushrooms - allspice, bay leaf Preparation: Soak beans in 3 cups of water for at least 10 hours. Combine peas and boiling water in a small saucepan; bring to a boil. Cover and cook about 20 minutes. Set aside. Meanwhile, soak the dried forest mushrooms in 2 cups of hot water for at least 2-3 hours. Then, place mushrooms and 4 cups of water in a big saucepan; bring to a boil. Cover and cook about 20 minutes. Put mushrooms and set aside. Add sauerkraut, shredded and steamed cabbage to the mushroom broth; bring to a boil. Cover and simmer for about 30 minutes. Add bay leaf, allspice, pinch of sugar, beans and mushrooms..While cabbage is cooking, saute onion in butter until golden brown but not burned. Add, cook and simmer for another 15 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
MUSHROOM SOUP Ingredients: 100 g dried Polish mushrooms 1 onion (chopped - 1 cup sour cream 2 ltrs beef broth salt and pepper to taste allspice flour/sour cream Preparation: Soak dried mushrooms in hot water for 2-3 hours. Drain and squeeze out excess water. Place mushrooms and 4 cups of water to a big saucepan; bring to a boil. Cook about 30 minutes. Add flour or sour cream. Season with salt, allspice and pepper to taste.
DUMPLINGS WITH COTTAGE CHEESE (SWEET DISH) Ingredients: „Pierogi” Dough: - 1 kg flour - 1 egg - 2 tablespoon of oil - pinch of salt - hot water Cheese Filling: - 1 kg cottage cheese, - 3 yolks, - 1 teaspoon of potato starch, - 2 vanilla sugar, - sugar, cinnamon. Preparation: In a large bowl combine ingredients of dough. Bring the dough together, kneading well and adding more flour or water as necessary. Pin out dough, thoroughly. Cut out large pieces of dough roughly 8cm in square. Grind cottage cheese in a food processor. Add sugar, vanilla sugar, yolks and potato starch. Make filling. Stuff dumplings with filling. Cook dumplings at a time by dropping into the boiling water with pinch of salt and 1 tablespoon oil.. Boil gently for about 12 minutes or until dumplings rise to the surfaced. Serve warm with sugar, cinnamon or sour cream, if desired.
DRIED FRUIT COMPOTE Ingredients: 200 g dried plum 100 g dried apricots, 100 g dried apples, 100g dried figs 50 g dried pears 1 orange, 1 lemon 2 cinnamon sticks 5 whole cloves 6 cups boiling water honey to taste Preparation: Combine all dried fruits in a large saucepan. Pour boiling water and set aside for 4 hours. Meanwhile, blanch orange and lemon; cut into slices. Add to dried fruits. Add 2 cinnamon sticks and cloves. Stirring frequently, and simmer, covered, for about 25 minutes or until fruits are tender and syrup has thickened slightly. Season with honey. Refrigerate for a few hours. It keeps for about 1 week.
FISH SOUP Ingredients: - a piece of fish (head carp or tail carp – 300g) - vegetables- 1 carrot, 1 root parsley,1 leaf parsley,1 celeriac, 1 leek; peeled and sliced into bite-size pieces. - sugar to taste -1 onion (chopped) - sour cream (30%), - 2 tablespoons flour - allspice, bay leaf - vinegar - bouillon/broth cube Preparation: In a large saucepan place vegetables, water, broth cube and bring to a boil. Cover and cook about 30 minutes. Add fish pieces. Simmer until fish is cooked. Add flour and sour cream. Mix well. Season with pepper and salt.