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Polskie tradycje bożonarodzeniowe
Polish Christmas Traditions





Christmas is the most important holiday for Poles. It falls on 24th -26th December.

Many traditions have been continued for centuries . Most of them are connected with the last day of Advent called ‘Wigilia’, (a Latin word meaning ‘vigil’, ‘waiting for something’). On that special day – on 24th December when the first star appears in the sky families get together and eat special supper, they share a wafer wishing the best to each other and forgiving everything what was wrong. This is a day of waiting for the birth of Jesus Christ.

Christmas is supposed to be a time of inner transformation. Also, this transformation takes place literally when people clean up their houses, beat the carpets because everything must have a fantastic shine for this special occasion.


When the house is ready people bring a Christmas tree and start to decorate them by hanging glass balls and gingerbread figures of people and animals, and of course by putting candles on the tree. There are also chains made of paper, coloured paper or blot paper. At the top of the tree they usually put a star which symbolizes a Bethlehem star.


Here are some descriptions of how our pupils spend Wigilia day in their families:


In Poland the most important tradition is sharing a wafer and giving all good wishes for Christmas. At the table there must be one additional place setting for a ‘newcomer’, a guest- a person who has not got a place and nobody to spend Wigilia with. On Wigilia day there should not be meat dishes on the table. Only a day after we can serve meat dishes. Our Christmas tree is decorated by things made on pur own. In a shop we only buy some more things so that the whole tree was covered with decorations. On Wigilia day we get presents which are always put under the tree. It is believed that the presents are given by the Santa Claus.

Krystian, Class 6


At Christmas we share a wafer during the supper. We give all good wishes for Christmas to each other. When we sit by the table there is always one additional place setting for a guest. There are twelve dishes on the table as there were twelve apostles. There cannot be meat dishes. We eat salads and fish on that special day. We sit by the table and sing Christmas  carols. Under the tablecloth some hay is put in memory of Jesus’s birth. After eating supper people put presents under the tree. At midnight they go to the church to a special mess called ‘Pasterka’ to pray.

 Ania, class 6

mikolajThe oldest Christmas carols date beck to the Middle Ages. Now we sing carols and often there is a small crib put somewhere around. The tradition of building cribs was probably started by St Francis. Nowadays in churches there are always cribs with Mary, Jesus and Joseph surrounded by  the three kings, animals and sometimes angels.



People also send Christmas cards to each other. This is still a tradition even though it is disappearing now probably due to internet communication which is faster and cheaper.


It is worth mentioning that

  • A wafer is a typically Polish tradition. It symbolizes reconciliation and fraternity.
  • Nobody should be alone on Wigilia day- that is why there is the additional place setting




If you read this article carefully we offer you a small QUIZ. You can check how much you know about Christmas in Poland.

Answer the following questions. If you have problems, try to look for an answer in the text.


1.     What happens when the first star appears in the sky?

2.     When do Polish people celebrate Wigilia?

3.     Do they eat meat on Wigilia day?

4.     What do people ro in their houses before they start decorating the tree?

5.     What decorations are there on the tree?

6.     Why do they leave an additional place setting on the table?

7.     What do we call the special midnight mess?

8.     What do they share during the Wigilia supper?

9.     What can you always find in churches?

10.  Do people sing Christmas carols in Poland?



Zespół Szkolno Przedszkolny w Lamkowie
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