There are many interesting traditions which exist only in Silesia voivodeship. Christmas Eve is a very important day for everyone. Silesian people believe that on that day, they have to wake up earlier to help each other organize the solemn dinner. Except waking up earlier, there are many other trivia about how Christmas should look like and what is crucial to be on the Christmas Eve’s dinner, called in Silesia the ‘Wilijo’.
‘Wilijo’ (or ‘Wigilia’ in the Polish language), so the Christmas Eve, is, as it was mentioned, a very special day. The solemn dinner differs from the traditional dinner. Everybody wears smart outfits and it begins with reading the Bible, prayer. In some homes, people also pray for the dead. Then, Polish people share the Christmas wafer. Christmas wafer (‘opłatek’) is a Christmas tradition celebrated mostly in Poland during Christmas Eve’s dinner on 24th December. The Christmas wafer symbolizes the unity of the family and during sharing it, everybody wishes each other Merry Christmas.
There is also one very important tradition which obtains in Silesia. If you sit at the table, you cannot stand up until the end of Christmas Eve’s dinner. However, if someone knocks, tradition obliges to open and invite the unexpected guest. Another Christmas tradition related to, mentioned, unexpected guest. Polish people leave one empty place at the table. An empty place is an expression of solidarity with lonely ones. It presents our readiness for an unexpected guest and this is why this place is fully set, exactly like others, so there is a plate, bowl, cutlery etc.
Moreover, under the plate, there has to be at least one ichthyosis, which, after the dinner, has to be put into the wallet. This superstition is called the Lucky Ichthyosis. The ichthyosis is from (usually) Christmas’ carps, which are eaten during the solemn dinner. The ichthyosis is supposed to attract money for the whole year.
Christmas presents are a common tradition throughout Poland. However, only in Silesia, baby Jesus brings presents – not Santa Claus, Star or Father Christmas. Baby Jesus (in Silesia voivodeship called ‘Dzieciontko’) himself, is giving presents to children and adults. This is the reason why the nativity scene is always underneath the Christmas tree. Baby Jesus has to have a place to rest.
Midnight Mass is a consecutive tradition in the whole country, but in Silesian voivodeship, it is unmissable for every believer. It is called the ‘Pasterka’ and is celebrated at night between 24 and 25 December. During that solemn mass, people sing traditional Christmas carols in the spirit of joy.
The most popular dishes in Silesia are ‘moczka’, ‘siemieniotka’, ‘makówki’, ‘panczkraut’ or sauerkraut with mushrooms, soup from fish’s heads and compote from drought fruit.
It is usually served as a dessert, but sometimes it might also be served as a dish. There is no equivalent for it, even in the Polish language. Even though ‘moczka’ might not look appetizing, it tastes delicious. ‘Moczka’ is made from gingerbread which has to soak in lager. Then, sweet canned pears and plums, strawberry’s compote and almonds are added. The preparation is quite easy but takes time. After the solemn Christmas’ dinner, ‘moczka’ is served for a dessert.
It is a soup made from hemp seed. The hemp seeds are cooked and then separated from the shells. They are grounded into a paste and mixed with milk. It is served with kasha (called in Silesia the pagan kasha) or croutons.
Probably the most delicious dessert for Christmas. In many Silesian homes, it is impossible to imagine Christmas without a bowl with ‘makówki’. Similarly to ‘moczka’, ‘makówki’ are prepares only during Christmas time. They are served sweet with dried fruit. Although the receipts often differ from one family to another, the foundation is always the same – the poppy!
It is nothing else than potatoes with sauerkraut, well mixed and seasoned. It is worth pointing out that the ‘panczkraut’ is a very popular dish in Upper Silesia and is prepared not only during Christmas.
Sauerkraut with mushrooms
It is a traditional and domestic receipt for Christmas Eve’s dinner. Delicious mushroom sauerkraut is one of the Christmas Eve dishes that people await all year round. In many homes, it is compulsory to have it on the Christmas table.
Soup from fish’ heads
As the name itself indicated, this is a soup made from fish’ heads, usually carps. Although the cooking process does not look encouraging, its taste is extremely delicious. It is served usually with croutons.
Compote from drought fruit
By some loved, by others hated. Dried fruit compote is always served in salad bowls (never in glasses or cups) and only during Christmas Eve’s dinner. It is made from dried and smoked fruit like apples, pears and plums. Some people add also raisins.
Christmas is an annual celebration commemorating the birth of Jesus Christ. It is preceded by Advent, so the time of waiting.
Source: Poland Daily, niezalezna.pl