How to Keep Polish Christmas Traditions in Your Home

Carrying on traditions from the "old country" is alive and well in the western hemisphere. Although we may not be able to create a given tradition as they did in the "old country", just as their names were Americanized, so are the traditions. For the most part, in many countries, the traditions are centered around what you eat, who you are with and in which activity you are engaged.


  1. Image titled Keep Polish Christmas Traditions in Your Home Step 1
    Eat no meat and drink no alcohol on Christmas Eve (known as Wigilia). This is the most important day of the holiday, as people await the arrival of Jesus.
  2. Image titled Keep Polish Christmas Traditions in Your Home Step 2
    Prepare your table with a white tablecloth and under the tablecloth have a few sprigs of hay. If you are very daring you can try pulling out a stem of hay. If the stem is green, there will be an early marriage; a short stem is an early death; a yellow one means no marriage and a withered one means a long wait. People usually leave one place at the table free, whether for someone who arrives unexpectedly or for a remembrance for those who have already passed. Be sure there are candles on the table.
  3. Image titled Keep Polish Christmas Traditions in Your Home Step 3
    When the first star appears in the sky, start a very splendid supper. This should be a pre planned 12 entrée meal (The number twelve is in honor of Jesus' twelve apostles.); what actually is eaten varies in the different regions of Poland, however, dishes should be vegetarian (fish and other water dwelling creatures were not considered meat). Usually this includes a clear Borsch (Borsch) with uszka or a zupa grzybowa (mushroom soup); karp smazony (fried carp); sledz (different herring dishes); kapusta z grzybami - bigos without meat (cabbage with mushrooms); pierogi z kapusta i grzybami (pierogi with cabbage and mushrooms); groch z kapusta (cabbage with beans); kluski z makiem (pasta with poppy seeds) and ciasta (different cakes). The choice of drink is kompot(dried fruit).
  4. Image titled Keep Polish Christmas Traditions in Your Home Step 4
    Start the meal with a prayer and some reading from the Gospels. An oplatek (a wafter that symbolises bread) should be shared along with a Christmas greeting.
  5. Image titled Keep Polish Christmas Traditions in Your Home Step 5
    Blow out the candles at the end of the meal. If the smoke from the candles drifted towards the piece (stove, most likely meaning the source of heat), then there would be a marriage; If the smoke goes towards the window, the harvest would be good; but if the smoke goes towards the door, there would be a death in the family.


  • Prior to the meal, as hostess you may want to choose someone to blow out the candles ex: a single young man or woman of marriageable age.
  • If your family or friends are not into cabbage, choose other non-meat dishes; the intent is to share with others.
  • Wafer type cookies could be substituted for oplatek.
  • Wine may be a nice substitute for a dried fruit drink.
  • It is considered lucky if the first visitor at your home is a man, unlucky if it's a woman.this seems to be very important to the tune of they count the number of men and women to see how lucky this new year will be.
  • If you are the host, you may want to allocate different dishes to each guest, or perhaps prepare them together.

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Categories: Christmas