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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 4 - Christmas. In Polish, it’s called Boże Narodzenie.
In Poland, Christmas is celebrated over two days, December 25 and 26. These are both holidays, so people continue to feast as much they did on Christmas Eve. As with many other Polish holidays, Christmas family gatherings, or spotkania rodzinne, and eating lots of delicacies, are the main events of the day.
Now, before we get into more detail, do you know the answer to this question-
What is the Midnight Mass on Christmas called in Polish?
If you don't already know, you’ll find out a bit later. Keep listening.
Christmas in Poland is a time for visiting others. On Christmas Eve, people usually gather at the homes of their grandparents, and during the next two days of Christmas host guests or go to lunches and dinners with family or friends and acquaintances. In Poland, Christmas has always been associated with putting on a few extra pounds, because there’s nobody who can resist all the delicious delicacies like poppy-seed cake, called makowiec, or richly decorated gingerbreads.
During this period, we also see carolers or kolędnicy—many people believe their arrival brings good luck. Within this group there are characters from the biblical story of Christmas, including shepherds, an Angel and the Three Wise Men, as well as characters from folk tales, like the devil, diabeł, and death. Another very important element to caroling is a great rotating star on a long stick. Formerly, the carolers visited houses, but now—in big cities—you can also see them around apartment complexes as they sing Polish carols. People always make sure to reward them with a small payment for their caroling to ensure good luck for themselves.
Another crucial element of Christmas in Poland is the Christmas nativity scene, called szopka bożonarodzeniowa. You can see such nativity scenes set up all over cities and in churches. The nativity scene depicts the birth of Jesus, usually in a stable, surrounded by animals, such as a goat, horse, and sheep. Also by his side are Mary, Joseph, and the Three Wise Men laying down their gifts.
In Cracow, every year for nearly seventy years, a nativity scene contest has taken place on the Main Square, or Rynek Główny. Cribs are hand-made from plywood, wood, cardboard, and colored tinfoil. And certainly no one wants to miss the grand parade participants put on with their nativity scenes.
Now it's time to answer our quiz question-
What is the Midnight Mass on Christmas called in Polish?
It’s called pasterka. This is a special mass. In Poland, it is probably the most attended mass of the year. It takes place in every church at midnight on Christmas Eve.
How did you like this lesson? Have you learned anything interesting?
How do you celebrate Christmas in your country?
Leave a comment telling us at PolishPod101.com
See you next time!