Polish Christmas Calendar
Discover the most important Polish nativity traditions with Polish Christmas Calendar - in Poland usually called an Advent Calendar! Everyday we will reveal to you a new Christmas fact.
3 Dec. The Nativity Scene
Nativity scenes are performances telling the story of Christmas dating back to the Middle Ages. Today in Poland they are usually performed by children, and they are also staged by theatre groups or during the Procession of the Three Kings on 6 January.
4 Dec. Carp
Carp is one of the most important dishes on Christmas Eve. It is one of the symbols of Christmas and it is served fried or cold in jelly. Poles put carp skulls into their wallets, hoping that they will bring them luck with money. That's probably why the Christmas bonus at work is called “carp cash.”
5 Dec. Carols
The tradition of singing Christmas carols is very strong in Poland. There are also popular songs about the shepherds who were the first to welcome the new-born Jesus. In Poland during the Christmas period carols can be heard everywhere – on the radio, television, in schools, at special concerts, and even at home. Many families still sing carols together at Christmas. Sometimes you can also meet carol singers, who dress up and go from house to house and sing in exchange for small gifts or money.
6 Dec. Saint Nicholas
On 6 December, at night, St. Nicholas leaves small gifts for children (and sometimes adults as well), who find them under a pillow or in a shoe, which should be cleaned the day before for St. Nicolas to leave a gift. His visit on 6 December gives Poles a small foretaste of Christmas.
7 Dec. Christmas Eve soup
Polish cuisine is famous for its soups, which is why they have to be on the Christmas table. The most popular is borscht – sour soup made of beetroot. It is served with small dumplings filled with cabbage and mushrooms. In other regions of Poland, you can also find mushroom soup, fish soup or fruit soup based on Christmas compote. Almond soup used to be popular. All Christmas Eve soups are linked by the fact that they are based on vegetable broth without meat*.
*Dear vegetarians, the bad news is that in Polish cuisine fish is traditionally not considered meat. But this is not so bad – in the Old Polish cuisine a beaver's tail was considered to be a Lenten dish.
8 Dec. Advent dawn mass
Throughout Advent, a mass is celebrated before sunrise whose name in Polish, roraty, comes from the Latin liturgical song, which begins with the words rorate cæli desuper (Drop down ye heavens from above). The tradition still exists in Poland today and worshipers bring lanterns to mass. On December mornings it is worth going to see dozens of lights in the darkened church.
9 Dec. Krakow cribs
These are richly decorated models of cribs that take inspiration from the architecture of Krakow and its surroundings. Originally, they were created as scenes for puppet shows. In 1937, the first competition of Krakow cribs was organised, which still takes place today. The tradition of making Krakow cribs has been entered on the UNESCO list of intangible heritage.
10 Dec. Herring
Fish dishes form the basis of the Christmas menu in Poland. Herring is prepared in hundreds of ways: in vinegar or oil, with cream, sweet or spicy. Only one thing is certain: it must be present on the Christmas table.
11 Dec. Baubles
Polish Christmas tree baubles are known all over the world. Handmade and hand-painted, they are popular in the USA and France. Polish baubles can be found in the homes of stars such as Oprah Winfrey and Elton John, and they decorate Christmas trees in the Sejm, the Presidential Palace and Polish embassies. They also decorated the trees of John Paul II and Barack Obama.
12 Dec. Starman
Do you think that Santa Claus leaves gifts under the Christmas tree? The people of Western Poland have a different opinion. In Wielkopolska, gifts are handed out on 24 December by the Star. In other parts of Poland, it is done by an angel, Grandfather Frost or the Baby Jesus.