Tuesday, January 21, 2014

A Very Merry Polish Christmas PLUS The Best Christmas Present Ever!

If you've read my bio then you already know that I was born in Poland and immigrated to the US when I just a kid.  I grew up in a very Polish household which included a traditional Polish Christmas.

Now that I am all grown up I try to keep some of those traditions alive and hope to share them with my kids one day as well create new traditions with my own family.

Dino is his finest winter attire
 
There are lots of very old, and some strange, Polish traditions. Like abstaining from dancing during the Christmas season and the belief that on Christmas Eve animals can talk and people can predict the future. But my traditions are more like eating Polish food and celebrating on Christmas Eve rather than Christmas Day.

My Polish Christmas dinner

More common traditions are setting an extra plate at the dinner table, placing hay under a white table cloth, looking for the first star of the evening, and the breaking of the oplatek.
Since no one should be alone for Christmas, an extra plate and seat are set at the dining table for an unexpected guest. The hay is to remind us of Christ’s birth in a stable and it is also thought that it predicts the martial future for single ladies. A long, green strand predicts marriage, a yellowed one means you’ll become a spinster and a short one…well, it’s not good, trust me. The first star of the evening means that dinner can begin! The oplatek is a communion like wafer that is passed around the table; each person breaks off a piece, hands it to the next person, who breaks off a piece, and so on.

A little Zubrowka martini helps the cooking process!

Technically, Christmas Eve dinner is supposed to be meatless, but well, I’ve altered that traditional a little. Since leaving my parents house and making my own Christmas dinner, I always cook a big Polish feast primarily made up of things my mom taught me to cook. I start the day before and watch A White Christmas to get in the mood. Polish cooking isn’t fancy but it’s very time consuming and exhausting (ie: rolling out pierogi dough takes a little elbow grease! ). I make everything from scratch so while all my gear is out and the kitchen is in full swing I make lots and lots of extra food to freeze. This year I made about 100 pierogi and about 200 kopytka, give or take.

Here is my Christmas dinner menu:

Golumpki – Cabbage rolls
 

Kopytka – Similar to gnocchi
 

Pierogi – A dumpling with various fillings such as potato, cheese, meat, and sauerkraut
 


Mizeria – Cucumber salad with sour cream and dill
(sorry, no picture)

Kremowka - Pastry layered with custard.
 

My parents, who moved back to Poland many years ago, send me an oplatek from Poland every year and sometimes they even send hay for the table.

In Poland children do not believe in a Santa Claus who brings presents at night. Instead an angel or star brings the presents on Christmas Eve. It’s for that reason that presents are opened after dinner on Christmas Eve, not on Christmas morning. A tradition I have continued in my house.

This pretty much sums up the Polish piece of my Christmas. After that, it’s all me. I love the holidays and love Christmas movies. Like many folks out there my favorites are A Christmas Story and National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. Thanks to TBS, at 8:00 pm sharp we sit down to watch the first run of A Christmas Story. On Christmas day we alternate between that, National Lampoon’s, and whatever other Christmas movies are on and eat leftovers.

I drink my beer out of this "Fra-Gee-Lay" pint glass =)

and drink my egg nog out a moose mug!

This Christmas was especially memorable because I received a very special gift. On Christmas Eve I quickly checked my email and saw that I had a message from a past client. I had a planned a trip to Paris for her last summer and hadn’t heard from her since so I pretty surprised to receive a message so many months later. She apologized for not getting back to me sooner and revealed that she had written a review of my company, Sonar Travel, on her blog. Even more surprising, I learned that she herself is a professional event planner! I quickly clicked on the link to read and the review.

What I read literally made me well up. Needless to say, it was an excellent review!
Reading of how she appreciated my services and how they helped her during her trip made me so incredibly proud and happy. It was the best present I could have received!

I hope from the bottom of my heart that you had a wonderful holiday, however or whatever you celebrate! Happy Hanukah! Merry Christmas! Wesolych Swiat!



4 comments:

  1. There's no Christmas like Polish Christmas! Period.
    #TeamPierogi :)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Are there any traditional movies or songs that Polish kids would do each year?

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  3. Hope it was a fantastic Christmas Eve. My friend is planning a baptism party for her sister in law at one of the stunning Los Angeles event venues in a couple of weeks. Will order colorful cupcakes and flowers. Bought lovely gifts for newly born angel. Hope her efforts are appreciated.

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