In the traditional Polish Christmas cuisine still are present echoes of the old Slavic beliefs.
Interestingly, in the pagan time Slavs celebrated the feast of December 24 to commemorate dead and they used to have a modest wake that day. In past centuries only meatless dishes were served, and their numbers have to be odd (5 or 7 of the peasants, 9 of the nobility and 11 or 13 aristocracy), what was of magical significance. Today it is 12 in use.
Note: Polish Christmas Eve food is considered very healthy!
According to old tradition food ingredients have to come from the field (grits, corn), orchard (fruit), garden (vegetables), forest (mushrooms, nuts, honey) and water (fish), which was to ensure a good harvest in each of these places. A remnant of the old wake was the custom to eat pancakes (bliny), beans, peas, cereal, apples and nuts. Menu depends on the wealth of the family and the region of Poland. For example, on the rich manors 12 kind of fish dishes were served. Separate cuisine traditions are still visible, but few dishes, originating from traditional folk, can be considered as typical for Polish Christmas Eve. These are:
wafer – thin waffle with a Christmas theme , which gathered at the table to share with everyone with good wishes before dinner starts . Wafer hosts also share with animals. Wafer is a custom unknown outside Poland.
borscht with beet
This popular Christmas fish is a hero of special Christmas carols sung every year by a team of “Carp’s friends” of Polish Radio Program 3 journalists!
cabbage with peas (on the picture below) or with mushrooms
- with mushrooms and cabbage
- with dried plums (sweet) – on the picture below
kutia (east Poland)
dried fruit compote
herring in various way (in oil, sour cream, in Hebrew recipe)
carp in aspic
noodles with poppy (sweet)
poppy seed cake
Christmas Eve at Renata
- 3 soups: borscht with ravioli (on the picture below) + mushroom soup + fish soup (made of carp remnants)
- fried carp + potato + cabbage with peas and cabbage with mushrooms
- herring with raisins
- dried fruit compote
- poppy seed cake
- gingerbread cakes
- makówki (dessert of poppy, Upper Silesia)
Each dish should be tasted!
For the Christmas holidays Poles also prepares bigos, roast goose, and many other dishes.
Read also: Easter and Christmas
Photo: Karolina Olczak, Renata Głuszek, Wikipedia, other sources
More about Polish Christmas can be found in the article ” Christmas” .