Polish Christmas Eve Supper – Wigilia
On Christmas Eve, December 24th, the appearance of the first star on the sky marks the beginning of one of the most beautiful evenings in the year for Poles. Families share Christmas water (opłatek) and wishes of good luck. After that, supper is served. Although the meal is reserved for the closest family, it’s customary to set an extra plate and seat for an unexpected guest, or even a vagrant.
The supper, which traditionally includes twelve dishes and desserts with most of the dishes served are cooked specifically for this special day – and only once a year, may last for a good couple of hours. It is followed by unpacking presents, which are placed under the Christmas tree – decorated with baubles, garlands and colourful lights.
“Twelve” is a symbol of richness, twelve Apostles and a representation of the twelve months of the year. During the meal, Polish people believe that everyone should taste a bit of all the twelve dishes. This gives the guest blessings for the 12 months.
The first dish often is a sour soup ~ either Borscht, a beetroot soup with uszka (tiny dumplings, meaning ‘little ears’) in it or Zupa Grzybowa, a dried forest mushroom soup.
As the 12 traditional dishes of Polish Christmas Eve aren’t exactly a hard and fast set, there are more like 30 traditional dishes which Poles will pick and choose between. Below are some of the popular or most common one:
And….yes, there is no red meat in the list.
Polish culture is a combination of religious, ancient, traditional, local and folk influences. Due to the strong religious symbolism of this Christmas Eve supper, as during lent – red meat is not consumed.
In some families, the Christmas menu includes multicultural aspects, as Lithuanians, Bealorus, Ukrainian, Jewish, German, Polish and other minorities have lived in Poland in the past. That is why Polish Christmas is an inimitable and magical ceremony.
Photo source: internet
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