If you’re dating a Polish person and plan on spending Christmas together, you’ll probably find them missing Poland more than usual at this time of year. While you may be used to seeing a well-roasted turkey on the dining room table, Christmas in Poland is significantly different to how it’s celebrated in the UK. If you want to surprise your date and help them to feel more at home, why not incorporate some traditional Polish touches into your festive celebrations?
We’ve got 10 ways to bring in some fun and meaningful Polish customs into your holiday festivities.
1. Start shopping at the beginning of December – Santa’s coming early!
Do you remember trying to stay up on Christmas Eve in the hope of meeting Santa? Well in Poland, Santa Claus Day (called Mikolaj) is celebrated three weeks earlier on December 6th which marks the name day of St. Nicholas. It is on this night where Santa visits with presents so if you haven’t got your date a gift yet, get to you nearest shopping centre now!
2. Roll up your sleeves, there’s some serious cleaning to do
We know you plan to decorate the house with sparkly tinsel and holly but don’t forgot to give each room a good clean. In Poland, it’s believed that having a dirty house on Christmas Eve will mean that this will set the tone for the year to come so unless you like mould and mildew, it’s worth getting the mop out.
3. Take those apples out of the fruit bowl – you’ll need it for the tree!
Due to the biblical connotations of the Garden of Eden, apples are used to decorate the tree as a commemoration of the forbidden fruit. Before you buy those festive red and green apples, you may want to grab some oranges too! Other modern decorations include chocolates, nuts wrapped in foil and glass ornaments. It’s all about using less of those store-bought baubles and replace with some materials you have at home. It also means you’ll be able to save some money to put towards New Year celebrations. Hooray!
4. Romantic alert! Lay on the grass and look at the stars on Christmas Eve
When Christmas Eve approaches, Polish families usually gather together to wait for the appearance of the first star. This, to us, is the perfect chance to dress up in some warm knit-wear, pack some hot cocoa in a flask and head to the park with your date. Once you spot a star, guide your date back home for the all-important Christmas feast! Brace yourselves.
5. Have some oplatek ready – you’ll need to break it before you eat
The Breaking of the Oplatek is a beautiful custom that your date is likely to hold high value for. Oplatek is a Christmas wafer made of flour and water and these are often embossed with religious images such as nativity scenes. Traditionally, the eldest member of the family will usually break off a piece to begin the ritual. It’s then passed onto other members who will each break off a piece while wishing one another happiness, good health and tons of success for years to come. We recommend buying these online but order early to ensure they get to you in time.
6. Food, glorious food – just make sure it’s meatless supper
Christmas Eve dinner is often known as “Wigilia” which comes from the Latin word “vigilare” (to wait). The preparations begin early in the day and often consists of twelve dishes (get your apron on), all of which should be meatless. A traditional Wigilia supper includes fried carp, barszcz (beetroot soup) and pierogi (dumplings). Sounds overwhelming? We’ve made it super easy to rustle up a tasty modern Polish dinner with our top festive foods to make your Polish date.
A koledy is the singing of carols but as expected, these aren’t the same carols that we’re used to singing in the UK. We recommend turning to YouTube to search for a Polish koledy that you can play out loud after dinner. If you know a bit of Polish and are feeling daring, try serenading your date by singing along.
Christmas Day is known as the first holiday in Poland and it’s spent at home with loved ones. There’s no cleaning or cooking to be done (you’ll be reheating yesterday’s food) and it’s simply a day to enjoy – we like the sound of that.
Boże Narodzenie! (Merry Christmas)