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World Advent Calendar

by Mandy Barrow

Christmas Jokes | British Christmas | London Topic | Project Britain | Homework Help

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What must appear before the Christmas meal and celebrations can begin in Poland?



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The first star!

On Christmas Eve, people in Poland looks up into the night sky to look for the first star.

They call the star Gwiazda.

Wesołych Świąt!
(pronounced vesoweeh shvyont)
Happy Christmas

The word for Christmas Eve in Polish, Wigilia (pronounced vee-GEE-lya), comes from the Latin for “keeping watch”. Wigilia is also the name of the traditional Polish Christmas Eve dinner.

oplatekWhen the first star appears on Christmas eve, the whole family, wearing their best clothes, sit down to a Christmas Eve feast. This begins with the passing round of a special postcard-sized wafer called an oplatek (pictured right).

Everyone wishes each other the very best, as the optlatek is shared around the table.

The oplatek are made from flour and water and are embossed with pictures of nativity scenes.

No meat is eaten during the 'wigilia' meal, only different types of fish and other traditional dishes.

The traditional fish eaten only at Christmas time is Carp.

The traditional 'wigilia' is a very big meal because there are 12 courses in all, representing the twelve disciples.

Traditional Polish 'wigilia' food includes a poppy seed cake, beet soup, prune dumplings and noodles with poppy seed.


Mary and JosephAt least one empty place is left at the table for a relative who is far away or has recently died.

Some families leave two empty places at the feast table so that if Mary and Joseph were to arrive there would be places for them.

A candle is lit on the table to herald the imminent arrival of Christ, the Light of the world.

After finishing eating, family and guests stay at the table until everyone is ready and then they leave the table together. This is the result of an old superstition which says that the first to rise from the table will die before the next Christmas Eve.

Father Christmas in Poland is called Swiety Mikolaj.
With thanks to Zuzanna for this information

He travels the countryside on foot, occasionally astride a white horse, blessing the children, and distributing goodies to well behaved children. He looks more like a bishop than the Father Christmas we know.

Swiety Mikolaj

December 6th is called Mikolajki in Poland, because it is Swiety Mikolaj's name-day.
With thanks to Zuzanna for this information

In Poland, children receive presents on 6 December and on Christmas Eve. On the 6th, Swiety Mikolaj brings presents at night and leaves them under children’s pillows and on Christmas Eve children find presents from Angel or Gwiazdor (depend on the region) under the Christmas tree.
With thanks to Zuzanna for this information

They always had a white Christmas in Poland until 2006. Hopefully they will have a white Christmas this year.

Learn some Polish words

Facts about Poland


11 days till Christmas!

Do you believe in Father Christmas?

A hundred years ago a girl wrote to a newspaper to ask if Santa Claus (Father Christmas) really existed.

Read her famous letter and the reply

Advent Calendar

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