Christmas is a very important holiday in Poland. It is cultivated not only for the sake of the aspect of faith, but it is also one of the few periods when it is possible to spend a few days with your family. And although everyone is experiencing this time in their own way, there are several traditions that are replicating in many homes in Poland.
Poles are preparing for Christmas well in advance, so that the Christmas period can only be devoted to the family. However, it may surprise you that the most important dinner of the year, or Christmas Eve, takes place on December 24, and this day is not legally free. The stores, however, work shorter and most of the outlets close at 3:00 PM.
It is worth remembering that December 25-26 are days off from work. This applies to the vast majority of occupations, and the only places where you can buy something are 24-hour gas stations (the smaller ones can also be closed).
The most intense period of preparation for holidays takes place a week earlier and then you can also see “crowds” in stores. There are ubiquitous discounts and promotions that apply to both food and products that are given in gifts. This is definitely the time when Poles spend the most money during the whole year.
Christmas is, of course, presents. They are not only given to children, but to all family members, friends, and sometimes even colleagues from work. In recent years, fashion has passed on giving very expensive gifts – these are reserved only for loved ones. Another friend can be put under the Christmas tree a trifle and it is said that it should not exceed 50 zlotys. In turn, in the family circle, gifts can be various and often they are thought out or a few people collect money together to make one bigger gift.
You can not forget about eating on holidays! At the Christmas Eve table there should be 12 fast dishes, but more and more people are departing from this custom. In Poland, not many rites during Christmas Eve – before the supper consists of wishing dividing the wafer, sometimes singing Christmas carols. In some areas under the tablecloth, hay or fish scales are placed as a symbol of happiness. You also leave one blank space at the table for the person in need.
What to do on holidays?
After Christmas Eve supper you can go to midnight Mass. It takes place in every major church and begins at midnight. In cities such as Krakow and Warsaw, which have historic cathedrals, this event is really lofty and worth seeing. The masses take place on December 25 and 26, and their presence on them is important for Catholics.
In larger cities, there is a Nativity play at this time, often torn off by children. There are also numerous fundraisers for charity. The markets display stalls with food and Christmas gadgets that disappear from squares before New Year.
In addition to participating in services, you can also go to the cinema (they can be closed on Christmas Eve, but they are already running on subsequent days of holidays), restaurants or to premises such as bars or discos. However, there is no strict rule and if it is open, it depends mainly on the owner’s arrangements.