Wigilia

Christmas begins in Poland on December 24th, when the first star appears in the sky. We take care of the twins for an hour or two before that, so R can tidy up yet again, put the finishing touches to food, and protect the white tablecloth with the Christmas runner. The silver has already been polished, using that miracle cleaner vinegar, although the four small hands intended to make light work of it complained about it hurting their cuts. We battle them into their clothes at 4 o’clock, and bumpety-bump the bikes down the stairs. Outside it is darkening and there are very satisfying puddles to speed through, feet held high.

At their home the Christmas lights are flashing and soon the rest of the family arrive from Pruszków. The celebration begins with the breaking of the wafer: we move around to everybody, taking a small piece of their wafer as they take a piece of ours, and then exchanging hugs. 

And then the feasting: a rich mushroom soup with noodles, herrings, gravlax, baked vegetables, pierogi made from mushrooms harvested at Grójec Wielki during our summer holiday, and in the white tureen with a gold ladle the blood red borscht, made with beetroot fermented for a couple of days. There is also an invader – a couple of plates of sushi relished especially by the cousins. I am intrigued by a little green pile surrounded by fringed green paper and find my mouth burning with an overdose of wasabi.

Then it’s time to open presents. Miraculously all adults stick to the no-gifts-for-grownups protocol, but that rule doesn’t apply to children. Paper is torn off parcels without restraint: a fully stocked pencil case; a set of bright plastic skittles; a truck full of cars; a puzzle; a pile of books. 

After that the dessert, Thai semolina with mango and coconut cream, and of course cake. By 7 the feasting is over, the children over-excited and we head back home laden with leftovers.

If you want to know more about Polish Christmas rituals, you can look here and here

In Australia the celebrations are very different. My Stanthorpe daughter goes to work with her partner as he checks the irrigation system at the vegetable farm. They ride around the property on a quad bike, exploring all its beautiful corners, spotting a platypus in one of the dams, and then return home for a lazy barbecue, and a visit from a friend bearing praline and fudge. 

At Potato Point my two sons, my daughter-in-law and my most beloved senior grandson begin with a Christmas Eve prawning adventure, netting three kilos in a lake crowded with torch bearing hunters while their ankles are nibbled by crabs. Their feast includes prawns, abalone, ham, a Mediterranean salad assembled by the queen of salads and toast and vegemite. My Mt Tamborine son is a bit dismal: his first Christmas ever without a surf after puncturing his foot with a lantana spike clearing his block in northern NSW.

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About morselsandscraps

A retired Australian who spends a lot of time in Warsaw, and blogs as a way of life.
This entry was posted in Christmas, photos and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to Wigilia

  1. restlessjo says:

    Thank you for sharing your book laden Polish Christmas, on that perfectly positioned sleigh 🙂 You all look so joyful around that table. I could quite picture myself there, passing the maslo. (excuse the ‘l’ 🙂 ) Could 2 worlds be more different? Wishing you all much joy in each others company in the year ahead. Sending hugs, my dearest Meg.

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    • Thank you, Jo, so much. For so much. I’ve just read another of icelandpenny’s Peru posts: I think I owe them to you amongst so much other richness in the blogosphere. That sled caused so much trouble. The kids, of course, wanted to drag it round M’s precious floor. And the ensuing tantrum – or another one: there were a few that evening – wasn’t easily calmed by literature: I nearly finished “Ants in your pants” before Jaś stopped sobbing and it’s usually instantaneous. What’s planned for NY Eve?

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      • restlessjo says:

        You’re a sweetheart. 🙂 Nothing really for New Year. Before Lynne moved down to Sheffield we used sometimes to go to theirs. They’re back visiting family in Durham today so we’re probably going to pop up and say hello. Just be a couple of drinks and a soppy movie at home. Planning ahead to the Algarve, we have a few things arranged. Sending mighty hugs 🙂

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  2. Sue says:

    Looks like you were enjoying a great family celebration in Poland, Meg. Will there be more in the New Year?

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  3. Lucid Gypsy says:

    Would it be rude of me to have the soup and pierogi, then skip to the puds? 😉 What an adorable picture of Maja and her cousin, they are so cute together. But what were you looking at the ceiling for, was the roof leaking or something? The Potato Point dog looks very hopeful, I wonder if he got a treat. It must be delightfully warm over there. It’s lovely to see a Polish Christmas, it isn’t so very different you know, people are the same everywhere aren’t they? Sending big Devonshire hugs xx

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    • I don’t think you’re allowed to skip. But if you’re very sneaky …

      Um. I was looking at the ceiling to remove jowls and neck wrinkles, a trick that caused great merriment when a dozen old friends from upriver, all younger than me, were photographed looking like idiots, hearers of heavenly voices – or people looking at a leaking roof. I was mucking round and my daughter fired. The dog is a Stanthorpe dog, and I’m sure she got a treat – by gift or theft.

      Wishing you a healthy and exciting 2017: I’m looking forward to your companionship, your haiku and your inexhaustible images.

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  4. Heyjude says:

    How lovely to see Christmas from two very different parts of the world and different to mine. I’d prefer the prawns and the salad along with a nice crisp white SB. We finished off the turkey today: in a soup, though I still have some of the meat in the freezer! Yet another year nearly over. How fast time flies, but I must admit I am looking forward to spring and the Cornish gardens.

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    • I suspect it was beer rather than SB! I always struggle to have leftovers with the serial grazers aka my children. While it’s there they’ll eat it. Your feats sounds as if it’s still giving.

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      • Heyjude says:

        The grand-kids usually eat anything that is lying around, but two of them had tonsillitis over Christmas so spent it feeling very sorry for themselves and hardly eating at all! I suspect I shall be throwing away some of the cheese I got in for them, and I hate doing that!

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