December marks a very special time of year with Christmas markets in Poland and longstanding holiday traditions. In these last few days before Christmas, we’d like to write about the very special holiday traditions in Poland and Christmas festivities.
St. Nicolaus Day – SWIETEGO MIKOLAJA
Gift giving starts in Poland on St. Nicks Day – December 6th and lasts until Christmas Day. St. Nick comes at night and leaves gifts for kids under their pillows. In the “old days” gifts included sweets and fruit, nowadays it can be anything from toys to money. Adults used to not give each other gifts during Christmastime in Poland however, currently gift exchange is becoming more popular all the way thru New Year even among grownups. All those who were naughty during the year, would get a ROZGA – a bundle of twigs from birch trees with little devils attached to it – instead of nice gifts on St. Nicks Day.
Christmas SZOPKI – Cribs from Krakow
People of Krakow have been making and competing for the best crib since 1937. In 2018, these colorful, elaborate and handmade Nativity of Jesus scenes – Krakow Christmas Cribs – have been inscribed on the list of UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. The competition for top cribs starts in Krakow on the first Thursday of every December on the Market Square and later the cribs can be viewed at a local Museum thru the end of February the following year.
Christmas carols – KOLEDY
Poland has the most beautiful Christmas carols. One of them Bog sie Rodzi – God is Born -almost became a national anthem. Since majority of people in Poland are Roman Catholic, most sing Christmas carols at home with their family and friends and like to sing the more traditional, religious carols. Other popular Polish Christmas carols include: Julalze Jezuniu – Lullaby Jesus Child, Dzisiaj w Betlejem – Today in Bethlehem, W Zlobie Lezy – Lying in the Manger, Wsrod Nocnej Ciszy – The Silence of the Night and Przybiezeli do Betlejem – They took to Bethlehem.
Christmas Eve dinner – WIGILIA & OPLATEK
Wigilia is a traditional Christmas Eve dinner in Poland with twelve vegetarian dishes served. The twelve dishes symbolize the twelve apostles and include: clear borscht, fish (carp and/or herring, pierogi with cabbage and mushrooms, golabki – stuffed cabbage rolls, bigos, lazanki – flat noodles with cabbage, kluski z makiem – noodles with poppyseeds,orange peel and raisins, kutia – made with cracked wheat, poppyseeds, dry fruit, raisins and nuts, makowiec – poppyseed roll and kompot to drink made from dried fruit boiled with water. The most important aspect of Wigilia dinner is sharing of OPLATEK. Oplatek is a thin wafer made of water and flour. Oplatek is shared with everyone at the table before food and drink is shared.
Christmas Vigil – PASTERKA
After Christmas Eve dinner, it is a tradition in Poland for everyone to attend Christmas Vigil – Pasterka at midnight to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. Churches are beautifully decorated with Nativity scenes on full display where people gather to sing Christmas carols during Mass. Christmas Vigil is well attended throughout Poland, especially in small towns and villages where families often walk together to their local church during cold and snowy nights all in the name of keeping up the beautiful tradition of attending Pasterka.
Christmas Markets in Poland – JARMARKI BOZONARODZENIOWE
Poland Culinary Vacations guests will once again travel on a 10 days/9 nights – December 9 – 18, 2021 “The Magic of Christmas Markets in Poland” tour and experience the festive Christmastime in Poland in top cities starting in Warsaw then on to Poznan, Wroclaw and ending in Krakow with a day trip to mountain town of Zakopane.
Here are just some highlights of what’s included in the Christmas Markets tour’s itinerary to Poland:
– Small groups, maximum group size no larger than 16
– Visits to Christmas Markets in Warsaw, Poznan, Wroclaw, Krakow and Zakopane
– Visit to the International Ice Sculpture Festival in Poznan –
this is a two-day weekend event so not available on all dates, please see specific trip itinerary
– One-of-a-kind Christmas gifts shopping
– Polish Christmas cookies baking class
– Polish Christmas Eve Dinner – Wigilia dishes cooking class with local chef
– Christmas ornaments decorating class
– Charming boutique accommodations
– Leisurely paced itineraries everyone can enjoy
– Scenic and breathtaking sights including UNESCO World Heritage Sites
– Local, expert, English speaking guide on each tour
New Years Eve Ball – “SYLWESTER” parties round up the festive holiday season in Poland. Many people in Poland plan for these a year in advance. Mountain town and village resort hotels are usually booked full on New Years Eve throughout Poland and Sylwester parties last way past midnight, into the New Year with people celebrating; singing, dancing, drinking and wishing each other – Szczesliwego Nowego Roku! – Happy New Year with a happy toast!
Travel with us to Poland on “The Magic of Christmas Markets in Poland” December 9 – 18, 2021 tour if you’d like to experience many of the special traditions and festivities in Poland and have an unforgettable Christmas!
Wishing You and Yours a very merry and peaceful Christmas!!! – Wesolych Swiat Bozego Narodzenia and Happy New 2021 Year!!!
| Malgorzata (Sarna) Rose, is a native of Poland. Poland Culinary Vacations grew out of her love and passion for travel and everything Polish, including fine Polish cuisine, eventually blossoming into a first-class culinary travel company. While growing up in Poland, she experienced the great joy of cooking with family and friends. Using her grandmothers' recipes and fresh ingredients from their gardens, they prepared food for weddings, parties, and traditional holidays. Now, through Poland Culinary Vacations, she wants to share that experience with you, and show you the best of everyday Polish living: the special people and their hospitality, and the heritage and traditions unique to each region. Only a native can help you discover and fully experience the authentic Poland!
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