Polish Christmas Calendar

Discover the most important Polish nativity traditions with Polish Christmas Calendar - in Poland usually called an Advent Calendar! Everyday we will reveal to you a new Christmas fact.

Jasełka - nativity scene in school in Grudziądz, 1936 3 Dec. The Nativity Scene

Nativity scenes are performances telling the story of Christmas dating back to the Middle Ages. Today in Poland they are usually performed by children, and they are also staged by theatre groups or during the Procession of the Three Kings on 6 January.





Fried carp - Christmas Eve dish 4 Dec. Carp

Carp is one of the most important dishes on Christmas Eve. It is one of the symbols of Christmas and it is served fried or cold in jelly. Poles put carp skulls into their wallets, hoping that they will bring them luck with money. That's probably why the Christmas bonus at work is called “carp cash.”






Polish Highlanders

5 Dec. Carols

The tradition of singing Christmas carols is very strong in Poland. There are also popular songs about the shepherds who were the first to welcome the new-born Jesus. In Poland during the Christmas period carols can be heard everywhere – on the radio, television, in schools, at special concerts, and even at home. Many families still sing carols together at Christmas. Sometimes you can also meet carol singers, who dress up and go from house to house and sing in exchange for small gifts or money.





Advent illumination in Warsaw 6 Dec. Saint Nicholas

On 6 December, at night, St. Nicholas leaves small gifts for children (and sometimes adults as well), who find them under a pillow or in a shoe, which should be cleaned the day before for St. Nicolas to leave a gift. His visit on 6 December gives Poles a small foretaste of Christmas.







Barszcz - Christmas Eve soup 7 Dec. Christmas Eve soup

Polish cuisine is famous for its soups, which is why they have to be on the Christmas table. The most popular is borscht – sour soup made of beetroot. It is served with small dumplings filled with cabbage and mushrooms. In other regions of Poland, you can also find mushroom soup, fish soup or fruit soup based on Christmas compote. Almond soup used to be popular. All Christmas Eve soups are linked by the fact that they are based on vegetable broth without meat*.

*Dear vegetarians, the bad news is that in Polish cuisine fish is traditionally not considered meat. But this is not so bad – in the Old Polish cuisine a beaver's tail was considered to be a Lenten dish.



Roraty morning Mass 8 Dec. Advent dawn mass

Throughout Advent, a mass is celebrated before sunrise whose name in Polish, roraty, comes from the Latin liturgical song, which begins with the words rorate cæli desuper (Drop down ye heavens from above). The tradition still exists in Poland today and worshipers bring lanterns to mass. On December mornings it is worth going to see dozens of lights in the darkened church.












Szopka - Kraków Nativity Scene 9 Dec. Krakow cribs

These are richly decorated models of cribs that take inspiration from the architecture of Krakow and its surroundings. Originally, they were created as scenes for puppet shows. In 1937, the first competition of Krakow cribs was organised, which still takes place today. The tradition of making Krakow cribs has been entered on the UNESCO list of intangible heritage.


















Herring in oil 10 Dec. Herring

Fish dishes form the basis of the Christmas menu in Poland. Herring is prepared in hundreds of ways: in vinegar or oil, with cream, sweet or spicy. Only one thing is certain: it must be present on the Christmas table.












Polish baubles factory 11 Dec. Baubles

Polish Christmas tree baubles are known all over the world. Handmade and hand-painted, they are popular in the USA and France. Polish baubles can be found in the homes of stars such as Oprah Winfrey and Elton John, and they decorate Christmas trees in the Sejm, the Presidential Palace and Polish embassies. They also decorated the trees of John Paul II and Barack Obama.






Starman from Wielkopolska 12 Dec. Starman

Do you think that Santa Claus leaves gifts under the Christmas tree? The people of Western Poland have a different opinion. In Wielkopolska, gifts are handed out on 24 December by the Star. In other parts of Poland, it is done by an angel, Grandfather Frost or the Baby Jesus.








1970,  Teresa Gutkowska selling the oranges 13 Dec. Oranges

Why do Poles associate oranges with Christmas? Not only because they are great when added to winter tea. During the People's Republic of Poland, access to imported goods was limited, and citrus fruits appeared in shops only during the holiday season. Although today you can buy them every day, the smell of oranges at Christmas remains in the memories of many Poles.












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