Wesolych Swiat Bozego Narodzenia!Guys and Dolls wishing you a “Merry Christmas” in Polish. I told you last year I wanted to write about how Polish people celebrate the beloved holiday and as I remember it growing up both at my grandparent’s and my parent’s homes. Among the Polish people the most beloved of traditional festivities is that which takes place on Christmas Eve. On Christmas Eve the dinner or Wigilia is served. This was the favorite part of Christmas for my grandfather; he spent all day preparing the set up while my grandmother did all the cooking and last minute baking. A large fold up table was placed in the dining room and covered with a white table cloth in memory of the Christ child in the manger. In
I still see my grandfather dressed to a tee, he always wore neat slacks, a nice shirt and tie and a vested sweater, I’d call gramps a dapper gentleman, which he truly was along with being a kind and gentle man, I really loved him and my grandmother. I’m sorry Roe and my sons never met him he died of a heart attack when I was in the 8th grade. Grandma hurried and changed to a better dress other than the house dress she wore cooking all day and finally they both sat down for a brief rest (probably five minutes).The family finally arrived Mom and Dad and my Uncle Ed and Aunt Louise. My mom had a brother who died and another who was a real loner and finally disappeared off the face of the earth. They both were remembered fondly by everyone at Christmas Eve with a prayer. The presents were placed under the tree and the family gathered around the table or sneaked into the kitchen to see what was cooking. Finally the food was placed on that big table but before sitting down everyone broke the traditional wafer or Oplatek and exchanged good wishes for health, wealth and happiness in the New Year. The Oplatek is a thin wafer similar to Catholic Holy Communion with stamped figures of Jesus, the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Holy Angels. In
At that time the Christmas Eve meal was strictly meatless. The menu usually would include a soup, my grandfather had to have beet soup instead of mushroom, but granny made them both to please everyone. We had sledzie (pickled herring), fried fish usually flounder or cod, pierogi, kapusta (cabbage) and grandma made her famous French fries instead of boiled potatoes. For dessert there was babka, cookies, candies and nuts. All this was topped off with coffee, hot tea and blackberry brandy and rockin rye. After dinner the dishes were washed and I waited to open my presents from Grandpa and grandma and my Uncle and Aunt.
The topper for my grandfather was attending Midnight Mass or as it is called in Polish Pasterka, which means the Shepherds Watch. The church was beautifully decorated as it was a Polish parish with hundreds of Poinsettias. Listening to the Polish Carols or koledy sung by the choir was beautiful to listen to and when mass started all the lights were turned off and candles held by everyone while more songs and a brief procession occurred before mass.When my grandfather passed away, my mom carried on the tradition of Christmas Eve dinner at our house, the meal basically the same but some of the spirit lost without grandpa being there, but yet enjoyed and shared with those you love.
Christmas Day for me was spent at home playing with all my new stuff and if any of the relatives wanted to come over they could, I was not moving, this was my day. I hoped you enjoyed reading about a Polish Christmas Eve and later this week I’ll tell you about how Roe and I spent our Christmas Day.
To my cousin Tom, I know you spent this holiday the same way I did. Merry Christmas to you, Linda and your family.