I ain’t no family guy. Not a huge fan of holidays neither. However this year is … odd.
Coronavirus got me somehow. Quite unaware. Antibodies are in me. I am protected now. Although i did not want to give my parents respiratory treatment as a Christmas gift. Hence i stayed home.
Christmas Eve is the most important day in Poland. Surprisingly, it is a working day. This year, as Saturday is still a holiday, we had Thursday off. I know it is complicated.
So, Thursday, December 24th is a family day. Feast! 12 dishes on the table, one spare plate for a wanderer/unexpected guest. We all gather for a dinner. It is a no meat day (a treat for me). We wait until the first star is seen on the sky. We say a long prayer, read a bible and head of the family starts to circulate the Christmas wafer. When everybody is equipped with that white and thin as sheet of paper… altar bread (what is a wafer really? Bread, right?), we start to make Christmas wishes to each other. While doing so, we break the other person’s wafer and eat it.
When we are all set and … all wished 🙂 we sit down at the table. There must be 12 dishes and you are obliged to try everything. EVERYTHING. In my family, on Christmas Eve we fast the whole day (until that official dinner). Well, my granny used to do that. We? Not so necessary.
I do not want to go into details about the food. Most of the dishes are cooked once a year. So, it is a holiday.
What we should have on the table:
- carp fish in jelly
- fried carp fish
- Christmas wafer
- dried fruit compote
- kutia (pearl barley with poppy seed)
- borscht with small dumplings (barszcz with uszka)
- pierogi with sauerkraut and forest mushrooms
- mushroom soup
- boiled potatoes
- bigos (savory stew of cabbage)
After that indecently big gluttony, we loosen the belt in our pants and hardly move. Then, out of the blue, we notice that there are Christmas gifts under the tree! Who? What? When? Then we send the youngsters to make some errands. After we enjoy (or not) our presents we drink coffee and eat cakes. And sing carols. That day is alcohol free. However, some people have a glass of wine or two, or more.
At night we attend the midnight mass.
I had two routines that time of the year. When my grandparents lived, we had 2 Christmas Eve dinners – at every grandparents’.
At one grandparents’, if it was white Christmas, we had to wade in the snow for a half a mile. They lived quite far from the main road. My other grandparents’ village was more … civilized. They had paved roads.
Now, when my grandparents are gone, we have only one dinner. At my folks. There are me, my sister with her 3 boys, my mom’s sister and her daughter and, sometimes, my mom’s brother.
25th and 26th of December are respectively called the 1st and the 2nd day of Christmas. Those are off days. No work. Just a celebration of the birth of baby Jesus.
First day is usually at my folks. We start at 11 am and finish around 6 pm. Eating (meat is very welcome) and drinking vodka.
The second day is a return visit at one of previous day’s guest. But quite often we spend the day resting and chillaxing. How long can you eat and drink, right?
I planned i would stay at home. Celebrating peace and quiet for the very first time during Christmas season. I bought lots of products to prepare my own Christmas Eve dinner. I gave kutia a go! That dish has been my favourite since i remember. It always makes me … sleepy 🙂
However, in the last moment i accepted the invitation from my dearest high school friends. We have known each other for more than 29 years now, so we are like a family.
As they cooked and bought enormous amount of food, i did not have to do much. Just to show up. But i wanted to share my poppy seed dish with everybody. It was my first time.
Instead of pearl barley (my dad’s mom way) i used some kind of pasta (my mom’s mom way). It is allowed. Kutia may vary in different parts of Poland. And i must admit it was yummy. Everything was! I had a blast yesterday. I spent a very nice time with friends. And for the very first time i drank alcohol that day. Wine and whisky. Bad Maciej.
Oh, and for the very first time i had racuchy/pancakes for Christmas Eve dinner. My friend is orthodox, and his family is closer to the Belarusian border. We have never had that pancakes on our holiday table. Although pancakes are very popular in my family. But they are everyday, not holiday treat. See, Christmas Eve dinner may vary in different parts of Poland. Even though it is only a 40 miles difference.
Today, 12/25 i rejected another invitation. I just needed a rest. I went for a walk to admire the Old Town in Warsaw.
Tomorrow i am seeing my friend. Steaks and whisky. And maybe Christmas carols when/if the carol singers knock on our door.
This year is odd. We have a bonus! The 3rd day of Christmas. Sunday is always a holiday, right?
Merry Christmas everybody.