Christmas in Poland | 12 Days of Christmas Around the World Day 1 Culture & Cuisine / Culture & History

About the Author // Cristóbal del Castillo Camus an avid language learner from Santiago, Chile. He speaks Spanish, English, French, German, Italian and Polish. You can learn more about him and read posts that he has written here.

Christmas in Poland – Boże Narodzenie w Polsce

Christmas time in Poland is very special. It is indeed a celebration in which families come together, many children (or people with children spirits) enjoy and also it gives a short time to rest.

Christmas season in Poland start on December 6th with Mikołajki, or St Nicholas’ day (Św. Mikołaj). In that morning, you get small presents from St Nicholas, since the big ones come during Christmas Eve. Make sure you clean your shoes the night before!

Christmas Eve is a special day in Poland and most traditions are still well alive in Poland. Most places close early since it is a special date to spend it with the family or close relatives. During that day, people are supposed to fast (not much of a problem since the sunset is really early) and when the first star is seen, Wigilia starts.

Wigilia is the actual Christmas Eve dinner. There are about 12 dishes available in that dinner. Yes, 12. And there is always an extra seat for unexpected guests, visitors or someone who might spend this holiday alone. The first thing people do before eating is to break Christmas-themed wafers called opłatki and exchange good wishes for the holiday season. Then the 12 dishes start to appear: barszcz (beetroot soup) with dumplings, mushroom soup, carp, herrings, pierogi (dumplings), sauerkraut, cabbage rolls or gołąbki, kutia (dried fruit dessert), gingerbread or piernik (best eaten in Toruń), compote and poppy seed cake (makowiec). As you may see, all of those dishes have no red meat and can be totally vegetarian or vegan friendly, if you wish to.

After enjoying all of these hearty dishes, children get a visit from… either Father Christmas himself, Gwiadzor (Starman) or Anioł (an angel), depending on the family’s tradition. Many people in Poland often go to church at midnight for the Shepherd’s mass (pasterka) where Christmas carols (Kolędy) or people turn on the television to watch a Christmas classic in Poland: Kevin sam w domu or Home Alone.

During Christmas Day, most Poles visit relatives and eat leftovers from the Wigilia. They also get Dec 26th off and most students do not go to school until the end of year holiday season is over.

The Christmas Tree along with the Nativity Scene are taken off the houses on January 6th, when the 3 Wise Kings visited Jesus.

Słonictwo // Vocabulary

English Polish
Have a Merry Christmas! Wesołych Świąt Bożego Narodzenia!
Christmas Eve dinner Wigilia
Christmas Boże Narodzenie
Saint Nicholas’ Day Mikołajki
Star Gwiadza
Christmas wafer opłatek
Cheers! Na zdrowie!
Yummy! Pycha!
Dish Danie
Soup Zupa
Vegetarian/Vegan dishes Wegetariańskie / Wegańskie dania.
Dessert deser
Christmas Eve dinner leftovers Resztki z Wigilii
Mushrooms Grzyby
Gifts Prezenty
Christmas letter List do Mikołaja
Children Dzieci
Dinner Kolacja
School vacation Wakacja
Toy Zabawka
Shoes Buty
Christmas carol Kolęda
Television set Telewizor
Guest Gość

A Holiday Dish Prepared in Poland

pierogi-ruskie

PIEROGI RUSKIE / RUTHENIAN PIEROGI
Yields 75
This style of pierogi (dumplings) is the most popular one, despite their name. It is a recipe shared with people who live in the Western part of Ukraine, where many Poles come from, having arrived in the current territory of Poland after World War II. In many cities and towns, you can have the best pierogi ruskie at a Pierogarnia, a small shop with limited seating and a no-frills style in which you can eat good and inexpensive pierogi. This filling is with potatoes, onion, and farmer’s cheese (which is white, cottage-like), so it’s vegetarian friendly. You can have it either boiled or fried. Also, you might eat them with sour cream (śmietana), some chives or the leftover fried onions. You will get 75 pieces of pierogi.
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For the Dough
  1. 300g of wheat flour
  2. a dash of salt
  3. 125ml of warm water
  4. 1 egg
  5. 20g of butter
For the Filling
  1. 500g of farmer’s white cheese (if you cannot found it in your local shop, there are recipes online to do it)
  2. 500g of potatoes
  3. 1 small onion
  4. 2 teaspoons of oil
  5. ½ teaspoon of ground black pepper.
Instructions for the dough
  1. Sift the flour into a bowl and add the salt. On a separate bowl, put the butter and warm water, and after the butter has melted, add it to the flour, and mix it with a spoon. Add the egg later and combine them until you get a smooth dough. Knead the dough for about 7-8 minutes and then wrap it in foil and let the dough rest for 30 minutes. After that, divide the dough in 4 parts and try to get a thin dough that makes you able to work with without breaking the pierogi. Use a small glass to create the circles, and then you add the filling.
Instructions for the filling
  1. Peel the potatoes, rinse them, add them to a pot with water and boil them until they are tender. Drain them, and when it’s still hot, smash them, until they have no lumps. When they have cooled down, crumble the cheese and mash it with a fork. Stir the mix with the potatoes, add salt and pepper. Cut the onions in cubes, and put them to fry in a pan with either butter or oil. Add them later to the mix.
Cooking pierogi
  1. Add one tablespoon of the mix to the dough and then fold the pieróg in half and seal them carefully. You can do that in a countertop with flour below and when they are ready, cover them with a tablecloth so they don’t dry.
  2. In a large pot, boil salted water with a tablespoon of oil or butter and put the first batch of pierogi (about 15 will do) after the water boils. After they reboil, reduced the heat to medium-low until they rise to the surface and leave them for 1,5 minutes. The pierogi ruskie will be ready by that time.
Adapted from (translated from KwestiaSmaku.com)
Adapted from (translated from KwestiaSmaku.com)
Eurolinguiste http://eurolinguiste.com/
SMACZNEGO! MAY YOU ENJOY THEM!


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  • Pierogi are sooo good! Before we visited Poland, we were told it was a food to try. We couldn’t see them anywhere except tourist restaurants and were so disappointed until the very last morning of our trip when we found them in a museum cafe! Haha! Love them! 🙂

    • So glad you found them! This was a really good recipe. Definitely something I plan on making again.

    • Next time, look for pierogarnia on Tripadvisor or Foursquare. Not touristy at all 🙂