Polish traditions are rich and colorful. Christmas time is especially important to Poles because of the Jesus Christ’s birth celebrated by all Roman Catholics. After the first star is spotted, Polish family begins the Christmas Eve dinner with a passage from the Bible, Luke 2:1-14, The Birth of Jesus Christ. Next, everyone brakes the “oplatek” and goes around the table with wishes for the next year. Contrary to the Western traditions, kids open their presents after the Christmas Eve dinner.
I found a great description of the dinner here.
Typical dishes include barszcz wigilijny z uszkami (Christmas Eve borscht with mushroom uszka dumplings), carp in aspic, herring (sledze), breaded whitefish, meatless cabbage rolls (golabki), and noodles with poppyseed. Desserts might include nuts, tangerines, chocolates, makowiec (poppyseed roll), mazurek (a jam-filled flat pastry), piernik (honey-spice cake), pierniczki (gingerbread cookies), kompot (fruit compote), cognac, liqueurs, mead and krupnik (a honey-spiced vodka). Kutia, a kind of gruel with cracked wheat and honey, is also eaten in some parts of Poland on Christmas Eve.
Take a look at couple of sample pictures of this year’s dinner. The Christmas Eve borscht with mushroom dumplings was so delicious that I haven’t had a chance to take a picture before it was gone. Merry Christmas.