Poland Travel Blog› entry 10 of 14 › view all entries
Polish name: Wigilia Bożego Narodzenia
Participation: Everybody, Always, Everywhere
In Poland, the traditional Christmas meal is known as Wigilia, and being invited to attend a Wigilia dinner with a family is considered a high honour. It is the most important day of all Christmas days, which is kind of ironic, because it's not even concider a holiday. According to the tradition, it starts when the first star can be seen on the evening sky, which in Poland at this time of year means about 4 pm. That star symbolize the Bethlehem star.
Before eating everyone exchanges wishes and greetingswith each other by giving a piece of Christmas wafer. It is important to leave one additional seat at the table for the "unexpected guest", which in theory means that everyone has a right to come and be invided to the table. As I wrote in a previous entry there are traditionally 12 dishes on the Christmas Table and one should at least taste them all to avoid bad luck.
Under the table cloth people put a small amount of hay -symbolizing Jesus on the hay stack. And of course non Christmas Eve would be good without a Christmas Tree and the presents underneath it. So after dinner, presents are being opened from under the Christmas Tree. Later people attend Midnight Mass to solemnly celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ.
There is a belief that on Christmas Eve animals would speak human voice. Also Christmas carols are very popular in Poland, where they have a long history, the oldest dating to the 15th century or earlier. I'm putting some links where you can listen to some traditional Polish carols (all youtube links).
AnioÅï¿½ pasterzom mÃ³wiÅï¿½ (Angel spoken to the shepherds)
Gdy Åï¿½liczna panna (When a beautiful lady...)
BÃ³g siÄï¿½ rodzi (God is born)
WÅï¿½rÃ³d nocnej ciszy (In the night's silence)
Gdy siÄï¿½ Chrystus rodzi (When the Christ is born)
Jezus MalusieÅï¿½ki (Little Jesus)
PÃ³jdÅºmy wszyscy do stajenki (Let's go together to the little stable)
LulajÅ¼e Jezuniu (Oh, sleep little Jesus)
Dzisiaj w Betlejem (Today in Bethlehem)
PrzybieÅ¼eli do Betlejem (They came to Bethlehem)
I hope you'll enjoy them.