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  2. CHRISTMAS Christmas is one of the two most important church holidays celebrated in Poland. It is preceded by the 4-week period of fasting called the Advent. Christmas is preceded by the anniversary of the birth of Jesus, namely Christmas Eve, taking place on the night of 24th December. The regional name for it is Gwiazdka (meaning literally Star in English).

  3. PREPARATIONS BEFORE CHRISTMAS Just before Christmas Polish people concentrate on a holiday cleaning in order to welcome Jesus Christ with dignity. All family members participate in Christmas preparations by cooking, doing the shopping and making Christmas decorations.

  4. CHRISTMAS CARDS Several days before Christmas it is a strong tradition for Polish people to send Christmas cards to their families and friends wishing them merry Christmas and a happy New Year.

  5. CHRISTMAS CARDS When they were staying there, the time for Maria’s delivery has come. She gave birth to her first-born son. St. Luke 2.6-7a

  6. CHRISTMAS EVE Christmas Eve (Wigilia) is the day preceding Christmas. Christmas Eve has been celebrated in church since the ancient times by waiting until the clock strikes midnight in order to welcome the arrival of the holy day. On Christmas Eve Polish people gather in family circles to await the arrival of Jesus. The Polish tradition says you cannot sit at the table to have supper until you can see the first star in the sky. This star symbolizes the Bethlehem star.

  7. CHRISTMAS EVE SUPPER In Poland at the beginning of Christmas Eve supper it is customary to read an excerpt from the Holy Bible about the birth of Christ. This part usually comes from the Gospel according to St Matthew (1.18). After that all family members share a holy wafer and wish all the best to each other.

  8. CHRISTMAS EVE TABLE After exchanging greetings the whole family take their seats at the table covered with white tablecloth, under which there should be some hay. It symbolizes the poverty of the stable where Jesus Christ was born. We should always remember to leave one seat for a possible guest.

  9. CHRISTMAS EVE SUPPER For the traditional Christmas supper there ought to be 12 dishes. If you want the coming year to be happy, you should taste all twelve dishes.

  10. TWELVE DISHES The custom of serving 12 dishes is connected with the number of the apostles. Formerly, the number of dishes depended on one’s affluence. The only rule was the number of dishes had to be multiplied by six. In peasants’ homes no more than 6 dishes were served, townsmen usually had 12-18 dishes, and lords could afford up to 24 dishes. Nowadays, Polish people serve 12 or 6 dishes (the latter for the supper for two people only).

  11. CHRISTMAS EVE DISHES Christmas Eve dishes are traditional. On this special night we serve fish and vegetarian meals including corn and poppy-seed, of course. Other dishes which appear on Polish tables include the following: fish soup, beetroot soup with dumplings, cabbage and mushrooms, poppy-seed cake, croquettes, dumplings stuffed with cabbage and mushrooms, and the variety of fish dishes, for instance carp, herring and trout, as well as gingerbread and cheesecake.

  12. HOLY WAFER Christmas Eve supper is preceded by sharing a holy wafer. It is a very thin leavening-free bread. While sharing the holy wafer we wish each other all the best. The broken holy wafer is a beautiful sign symbolizing love and unity of all the people taking part in the supper.

  13. MISTLETOE The custom of hanging mistletoe in people’s homes has been practiced for years in Poland. This tradition originates in England. Under the mistletoe those in love kiss each other. According to the tradition, the mistletoe twigs should be hung over the table, over the front door, over the fireplace or over the stove at the latest before the appearance of the first star in the sky.

  14. CHRISTMAS TREE One of the Polish customs that are most associated with Christmas is a Christmas tree. We put live trees in our homes and decorate them, and the smell of a pine or a fir tree leaves a special atmosphere even to the most modest interior. Polish people often decorate Christmas trees with hand-made decorations.

  15. THE FIRST STAR The Christmas tree should be decorated no sooner than on Christmas Eve. In order to turn all the lights on, it is important to wait for the appearance of the first star in the sky.

  16. SANTA CLAUS In Poland Santa Claus visits us twice: on the night of the 5th and 6th December and at Christmas. Like in most countries in Europe, in Poland Santa Claus brings presents on the night of the 5th and 6th December. This day is called Santa Claus Day.

  17. SANTA CLAUS Santa Claus is associated with Christmas and Christmas gifts, which is the consequence of American customs penetrating into the Polish culture.

  18. CHRISTMAS EVE SUPERSTITIONS Christmas Eve is an extraordinary time. It is believed that on this day at midnight animals are able to speak like human beings. However, in order to hear them speaking, it is necessary to treat them well for the entire year.

  19. CHRISTMAS EVE SUPERSTITIONS • Here is the list of the most important superstitions: • On this day you cannot argue, quarrel or cry. Otherwise, there will be disagreement and sadness in your home until the next Christmas Eve. • Falling ill or hurting oneself portends weak health for the whole year. • If on Christmas Eve a man calls or arrives first, it is the sign of happiness for the home; if it is a woman, it means unhappiness or an unpleasant event.

  20. MIDNIGHT MASS Midnight mass is a church service taking place at midnight on Christmas Eve. The participation of the whole families in this special mass is the most important element of celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ.

  21. MIDNIGHT MASS For many Polish people midnight mass is the crucial element of Christmas.

  22. CAROLS The oldest Polish Christmas carol is titled “Be healthy, Angelic King” and it goes back to 1424. The term carol became established in the 17th century. The most traditional Polish carol is “God is born”. The most popular carol in the world is “Silent night.”

  23. GOING CAROLLING Carol singers visit people’s homes with the nativity scene and a star wishing them merry Christmas and a happy New Year and singing carols. Carol singers often dress up as shepherds, kings, angels and devils.

  24. NATIVITY SCENES Polish nativity scenes came from Italy with theFranciscan order. The nativity scene contains the Holy Family, animals, shepherds, angels, Herod’s servants and his courtiers.


  26. NATIVITY PLAY Nativity plays are another Polish Christmas tradition. It is a performance presenting the birth of Jesus Christ. Nativity plays are shown in schools, churches and other cultural institutions all over Poland.

  27. CHRISTMAS DAY AND BOXING DAY Christmas is a family holiday. That is why Polish people do their best to spend this time with their families, paying visits to one another, sharing food and sweets. Going to church together is a very important element of family reunion. Whole families go to church to find the magic of Christmas in prayers and deep thought.

  28. CHRISTMAS IN OUR SCHOOL Every year Christmas is celebrated solemnly in our school. On the 6th December we have Santa Claus Day. Before this day each student randomly picks a person to whom they will give a small gift on the 6th December. On the last day before Christmas break the so-called class Christmas Eve suppers take place. Teachers and students get together for a meal, share a holy wafer and wish merry Christmas to one another.

  29. HEART PLUS CHRISTMAS CAMPAIGN Some students of our school take part in the Heart plus Christmas campaign. The volunteers stay a few hours in supermarkets such as Netto or Biedronka collecting groceries for those in need. Besides, students help the poorest by preparing Christmas presents for the poorest families.

  30. NATIVITY PLAY IN OUR SCHOOL Every year we organize nativity plays in cooperation with the Centre of Culture in Gryfice, in which students take part. The topic of the performances is the birth of Jesus Christ and the life of the Holy Family.