The time of Christmas Eve and Christmas is a very important moment for Catholics. There is a vast majority of them in Poland, hence a great influence on morality. 25 and 26 December are non-working days, intended for religious experiences and family meetings.
December 24th, in the evening, with the rising of the first star, Christmas Eve is celebrated. Then we give presents each other and sing Christmas carols. The solemn supper begins with reading a fragment of the Holy Scriptures about the birth of Jesus, breaking the wafer and making wishes.
In folk ritual, a lot of superstitions and customs related to the birth of Jesus Christ were associated with this period. Over time, some of them disappeared, including due to the development of technology and the transfer of people to cities. However, a lot has remained.
Traditionally dishes on the table should be 12, like 12 apostles (of course, vary depending on the region). The dishes should be fast (without meat, sometimes also without milk or animal fat). The most popular is soup made of beetroots or a mushroom soup, boiled cabbage with peas, fish (especially carp and herring), kutia (sweet mix of wheat, poppy seeds, honey, dried fruit), compote of drought fruits. One needs to try each dish. There is an additional place on the table for a „lost wanderer” who must be accepted if he appears.
Under a tablecloth to commemorate the birth of Jesus, the shed is placed. Once, in the villages, grain was put under the table, which was then added to it, sown on the field.
The first person entering the house had to be a man. A Christmas tree, as a tree green during the winter, is a symbol of Jesus’ life and birth. Mistletoe is also hung under the ceiling.
A solemn Holy Mass, so-called “Pasterka”, begins at midnight as a symbol of watching over Jesus at the manger.
All these habits and behaviors are meant to commemorate Jesus’ birth and provide health, happiness and wealth in the coming year.