We can't skip through some things. In the past, different types of ham and fruits (including mandarin which is one of the symbols of polish Christmas) weren't available for everybody during whole year so uniqueness of this period was result from what people could see and taste without that possibility in other months of the year.
Probably each of you as a child couldn’t wait for this day during the year when finally comes he – Santa Claus. For me the beginning was much earlier. The Christmas madness was starting in the middle of November. As a little child with my grandma I was doing the best thing during my Christmas time which became my annual tradition – baking gingerbread. It was no problem for me to skip the day outside just to decorate with my grandma yummy and odorous gingerbread. The problem was that I got them already at the Christmas Eve. Now it looks totally different and I must admit that all the Christmas magic has gone. The fun of baking gingerbread turned into tradition that I usually don’t have time for and I remind before Christmas – Oh my God I needs to make ginderbread. Lack of time makes that Christmas is not so beautiful as in the movies. However, coming back to my gingerbread – they are just with sprinkles and coating and what is worse – I need to make them myself.
In the most Polish houses the Christmas Eve is celebrated the same traditional way.
24th December with the first star we sit with our families at the formal capped table, we have a hay under the tablecloth and on the table there are 12 dishes. In the background there is a blinking Christmas Tree. There are usually even number of guests plus one additional place setting.
Among dishes there are obligatorily something with mushrooms, with cabbage, with nuts, with poppy seeds and everything fasting. The first is the wafer and then carols. The evening finishes with Midnight Mass.
And even if we don’t respect everything directly (for example at my home guests are those who we want to invite, that are especial and we don’t look at even number) or we can’t afford everything but we still make those traditions alive. They are so obvious for our Polish Christmas time that mentioning them is unnecessary. But let’s think about the origins of those traditions. Are they same obvious?
There are 12 Christmas Eve traditions of Polish houses.
We are coming back with description of twelve polish Christmassy traditions.
7. Sharing a special wafer when exchanging Christmas greetings
Second the most important thing during Christmas Eve is to share a special wafer when exchanging Christmas greetings. It is a connection with the Last Supper when the Christ set the Sacrament and shared a special wafer with the twelve Apostles. He also called himself a bread of life. The special wafer is a symbol of Christ. What more, sharing a bread, even the last crumb should symbolize reciprocal sacrifice for each other. During sharing a special wafer we should forgive all the hard feelings and wish only honest wishes.
As you know, 4th December is Saint Barbara's Day and Saint Barbara is a patron of good death and hard work. "Barbórka" (it's how we call this day in Poland) is also a name day of every Barbara (greetings ;P). 4th December is very specific day for every miner but also for geologists and those whose job is about looking for fossil fuel. Miners set great store by Saint Barbara's Day and care about habits related to this day.
Mining tradition is actually very simple. In the morning, miners go to the church to thank for every go down and up and to pray for safety and no accidents. To the church we can go alone or with our crew. After Eucharist and church service, miners (who are dressed in gala uniform and caps with plume) start the walk through the city and they always sing a mining anthem!