Wesolych Swiqt! That is: Merry Holidays! We learned that today at a beautiful Polish Christmas event. We were invited to a Wigilia celebration at our church and it proved to be a very special evening. We learned that the primary Christmas celebration in Poland is much different than in America, and that the focus is really on Christmas Eve. The children received gifts on the Feast of St. Nicholas (Dec. 6), so Christmas morning doesn't take on the same present-frenzy we have here. Our friend Lilianna informed us that for the Christmas Eve Wigilia dinner, Poles present 12 dishes, which represent the 12 apostles. Fish is on the menu (no meat) and there is always an empty seat left open at the table. Hay is laid underneath the white tablecloth, and a wafer, called an "Oplatek" is broken and shared. Here we are, ready to make the rounds and share our oplatek with our new Polish friends! This was all new to us, but we felt right at home.
The food was fantastic! I wish I could describe the dishes by name, but all I know is there were many breads, soups, pierogies and nut rolls, and they were all made to perfection!
The evening was festive and fun-filled. A wonderful Polish man named Tony shared the story of Szopka's (pictured here). It is a traditional Christmas Creche which originated in Krakow.
What a wonderful evening! It was a time of singing, eating, and celebrating the beautiful Polish heritage. Tonight we will go to bed with happy hearts and full bellies! What a gift.