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Lesson Transcript

Hello, and welcome to the Culture Class- Holidays in Poland Series at PolishPod101.com. In this series, we’re exploring the traditions behind Polish holidays and observances. I’m Michael, and you're listening to Season 1, Lesson 3 - Christmas Eve. In Polish, it’s called Wigilia Bożego Narodzenia.
In this lesson we’ll talk about the greatest and most important holiday in Poland: Christmas Eve. For this occasion, Poles typically return to their parents’ homes, and have a sit-down dinner with their families, gorging on various dishes prepared specially for this occasion. People also frequently decorate Christmas trees, called choinka, and exchange presents.
Now, before we get into more detail, do you know the answer to this question-
In some regions of Poland people receive presents from someone other than Santa Claus. Who is it?
If you don't know already, you’ll find out a bit later. Keep listening.
Christmas Eve has always been a special day in Poland when extraordinary things are known happen. In the past many superstitions existed, for example some believed that on this day the spirits of the dead, or dusze zmarłych, would visit their families, that the water in local wells might turn into honey or wine, and that animals would speak with human voices. It was also recommended to have a bath in the river on the morning of Christmas Eve to ensure one’s health and vitality for the following year.
Today, Christmas Eve is still a special and magical day in a way, and is celebrated by most people, not just those who are religious. There are many traditions that have survived to this day, and one of the most important is to prepare at least twelve different dishes for Christmas Eve dinner. Fish, or ryba, is the most common, prepared in various forms, such as baked, stewed, and jellied, and other common dishes including groats and cereals, salads and nuts. If you spend Christmas in Poland, other than fish dishes you must try borscht or barszcz and dumplings with cabbage and mushrooms called pierogi z kapustą i grzybami. Another famous dish is poppy seeds with honey and boiled grain, called kutia, or if you use bread instead of grains, makówka. And let’s not forget about other sweets like gingerbread or poppy-seed cake.
Another tradition is to share the Christmas wafer, or opłatek, before dinner. Each guest gets a piece of this beautifully decorated wafer and submits wishes to the other guests, one by one, breaking the wafer piece by piece. It is a very beautiful tradition because people don’t wish anything for themselves, but only for others.
Listeners who are familiar with Christmas will most likely know the story of the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem and the Three Wise Men, who followed a star to arrive at Jesus’s manger. Based on the events of this story, if the sky is clear on the evening of Christmas Eve, in many Polish homes people will sit down to dinner only after the first star appears in the night sky.
Now it's time to answer our quiz question-
In some regions of Poland, people receive presents from someone other than Santa Claus. Who is it?
In several regions of Poland, like Kaszuby, Kujawy and Greater Poland, the one who brings gifts for well-behaved children is Father Christmas, called Gwiazdor. But if someone was naughty, both of them—Santa Claus and Father Christmas—leave a wooden stick under the Christmas tree instead of a gift.
How did you like this lesson? Have you learned anything interesting?
Do you also celebrate Christmas Eve in your country?
Leave us a comment telling us at PolishPod101.com!
See you next time!

9 Comments

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PolishPod101.com
Monday at 6:30 pm
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Do you also celebrate Christmas Eve in your country?

 

PolishPod101.com
Tuesday at 6:33 pm
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Hi Vincent M. Prugar,


Thank you for your comment and let us know if you have any questions.


Cheers,


Khanh

Team PolishPod101.com

Vincent M. Prugar
Tuesday at 3:13 am
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Cool!

PolishPod101.com
Monday at 11:59 pm
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Hi @Wanda, @Jonathan, and @suffitas


Thank you very much for sharing your traditions and memories.

We hope you found our lessons helpful.


Sincerely,

Hanna

Team PolishPod101.com

suffitas
Saturday at 3:00 am
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Cześć! Będąc dzieckiem, mieszkałem w Związku Radzieckim, gdzie nie było dozwaliane wszystko, związane z Bogiem. Dlatego nie znałem wiele z tego, o czym opowiadacie.

Jonathan
Friday at 1:43 pm
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Christmas Eve is the more important holiday for my family. We love in the United States. When I was a child, we would always go to my Babcia's for Christmas Eve. The table would be filled with pierogi, herring, poppy seed roll, nut roll, etc.... We always had oplatek. That is tradition. We would then go to midnight mass. Afterwards, more people would come to Babcia's house. She would the bring out the ham and kielbasa, and we would all eat again.

Wanda Nowicki
Friday at 6:34 am
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We celebrate a traditional Polish Christmas Eve. My husband's grandparents were from Poland. We live in the United States of America.

PolishPod101.com
Wednesday at 11:12 pm
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Hi Jarrett,


Thank you for posting and sharing with us about this beautiful celebration in your country.


Looking forward to seeing you often here.:wink:



Cristiane

Team PolishPod101.com

Jarrett Payton
Tuesday at 11:19 am
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Christmas Eve is the most celebrated by my family. It involves dancing and a very good meal.