A Polish-Canadian Christmas

My family’s Christmas is … well, a MISH MASH of old Polish Christmas traditions combined with a deep love for the new rituals and practices developed here in Canada.  I love Christmas our way:)

One of my favourite traditions here in Canada is sending and receiving Christmas cards. No e-cards, emails, texts, etc. Physical cards. In the mail. The best! I get super excited to order my cards and send them out to family and friends. The cards we receive are proudly displayed on the mirror frame in our front hallway. They serve as a warm reminder of the wonderful people we know and love.

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Once the decorations come down after Christmas, we store the Christmas cards together with the decorations, and then bring them out the following year to re-read and remember last Christmas.  Let me tell you – it’s so much fun!

Now, the Polish Christmas is all about Christmas Eve.  That is the most important day of all.  Yes, more important than Christmas Day!

The traditional Christmas Eve supper (Wigilia) begins the moment when the first star appears in the sky.  Before sitting down, everyone shares opłatek, or the Christmas wafer.  The wafer is made from wheat flour and water and symbolizes the unity of family.  Sharing the opłatek is a deeply important tradition and a VERY moving moment!

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The Christmas Eve table always holds an empty set place for an unexpected guest or for those who have past over.  And we always have a bit of hay under the white table cloth to symbolize Jesus in the manger.

The supper itself MUST consist of 12 dishes and cannot include any meat.  So what do we eat?  MY FAVOURITE: Red barszcz (borscht) with mushroom dumplings.  YUM, YUM!!!  That’s all I really need.  Seriously!

But, there is more.  So much more!! Vegeterian croquettes,  saurekraut with wild mushrooms, pierogies, lots of fish – carp is the most popular fried fish, and pickled herring an extremely popular side dish.  There’s also a dried fruit compote and kutia – a poppyseed dessert.  Needless to say, there is so much food that we could easily eat for a week!

After supper, the kids open some presents from extended family and we begin singing and playing Christmas carols.  My step-dad usually begins with “Wśród nocnej ciszy” (traslated: In the middle of a quiet night).  This must be the best part of the evening by far for me!

Aww, just thinking about Christmas Eve makes me all warm and fuzzy inside:)

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Christmas morning is definitely my favourite Canadian tradition by far. Finding Santa’s plate with leftover crumbs and magical gifts under the tree (and in the stockings!)…..love, love, love… And just the preparation of the cookies and milk for the jolly old elf and carrots for his reindeer….SO much excitement goes into this!!!  I adore every minute!

We started a little tradition of putting up two Christmas trees – one for the whole family, and one with the boys’ handmade ornaments and ornaments they have been gifted (all of the presents find their way under this very special tree!)  My heart just melts when I look at all the little things my boys have made for their tree.

And lastly, somewhere in between all the Christmas dinners and get togethers, I just have to take a drive or even better – a walk, to look at all the beautiful Christmas light displays. Oh how much we enjoy these! What fun!!

Your turn!  What are your favourite traditions at this time of the year?  I’d love to hear about the things dear to you and your family!  Do share!

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