Christmas season starts about a month before Christmas, usually on the 6th of December called “Mikołajki” (Day of St. Nicholaus). On Mikołajki eve all children clean their shoes as during night Santa visits their houses and leaves some small gifts and candies in their shoes. Of course children wake up on that day very early to check what gifts they can find. Naughty children both on this day or Christmas Eve find only a twig.
During Christmas preparations in many towns and villages Christmas markets are organized. T he biggest and most well known ones are organized in Cracow, Wrocław, Warsaw and Gdańsk. In Gdańsk they also start with festive Santa’s arrival to town by a sea boat. Here you will find our Christmas offer.
Usually during a week before Christmas small children prepare nativity plays for their parents and families at schools and kindergartens. In Cracow there is also very famous nativity scenes competition.
The most important day of Christmas for Poles is the 24th of December – Christmas Eve. Although, it is not an official bank holiday in the country a lot of people take this one day off work. It is foremost a family holiday it starts with very festive and ceremonial dinner in the late afternoon or evening. Traditionally it should start when the family members spot the first star on the sky. Also on this day children get their Christmas presents.
Polish children find their presents under Christmas trees on the 24th of December after festive dinner. Sometimes even Santa Claus brings them himself! In the south of Poland children also receive gifts from Baby Jesus or an angel.
Traditionally Polish people spend three days of Christmas mainly with their families at Christmas feasts (24th-26th of December). It is often said that it is a hard time for their tummies as they have to survive 3 days of almost uninterrupted eating.
When it comes to dining traditions Christmas table has always white table cloth and underneath it some straw. Before eating on Christmas Eve Poles share special Christmas wafer and they give Christmas wishes to each other. There should be at least 12 Christmas dishes to bring wealth and prosperity for the next year. Main dishes for Christmas table include beetroot soup, a carp fish, dumplings and ‘bigos’ a stewed dish made of sauerkraut and fresh cabbage, meat and mushrooms. There are no Christmas puddings, mince pies or crackers but there are lots of gingerbread cookies, poppy seed cakes, apple pies and cheese cakes. Here you will find more info about Christmas dishes and sweets.
Poles don’t have any traditional and famous Queens Speech like in the UK but we have the President and Cardinal speeches. During Christmas period people sing carols and Polish carol singers have fancy dress’. They look like kings, angels, devils and so on. If there is snow you will be able to see lots of sleigh rides called ‘Kulig”.
On Christmas Eve people attend Midnight Masses called “Pasterka” in churches. They also go to church on the two following days. The 25th and 26th of December have the same significance for Polish families. They are bank holidays. Families gather together for festive dinners. These days are no longer lent in contrast to the 24th of December.
Christmas celebrations usually end with the celebrations of the Three Kings Day on the 6th of January which is a bank holiday. Usually, on that day people relax at home or attend Three King’s marches in the town and city centres. During these marches people wear crowns and dress like the biblical kings.
Christmas time is a magical period in most countries. It is really worth to observe all these traditions in Poland and discover the beauty of this season with Poles. If you would like to spend some time in December in Poland just contact one of our group specialists, we will arrange truly enchanted time for you.
Author: Agnieszka Szwedzińska