Christmas

How Polish Christmas smells like?

December 22, 2013

Polish Christmas flavours

I was making myself tea in the office kitchen, when a colleague asked me – Will you make a turkey for Christmas? This genuine and quite simple question revealed how difficult/different being an expat is. If I had been Irish, the answer would be yes, unless I would be a rebel or vegetarian. But being Polish means we don’t always have the same memories or connotations.  The question itself is not only about type of meat or dish to make, it is about tradition, celebration and everything around it. Turkey and ham is for Irish quintessence of Christmas. So trying to answer the question I tried to start from beginning.

Polish Christmas flavours

The most Christmassy day in Poland is Christmas Eve. Although it is not technically a bank holiday, but it is the day that everybody is looking to, it’s the day when Santa comes and leave presents, it is a day when special dishes appear on the table.

Christmas Eve is very special in Polish tradition. Families meet in the evening, the tradition says you should sit at a table when the first star appears in the sky. And as for food it is all lenten food. We don’t eat meat or meat related food. It is tradition, so the table is full of fish dishes – herring different styles (for example in mustard sauce or Christmassy ones), fried fish (most times it is carp), fish in jelly, Greek fish, cabbage with mushrooms, pierogi with dried mushrooms, compote from dried fruits, mushroom soup or borscht with little pierogi, pierogi with cabbage and mushrooms, Russian salad, croquettes with cabbage and mushrooms. And then cakes and desserts – gingerbread cake with plum jam, poppy seed strudel, cheesecakes, kutia.

So to answer the question from the post title – Polish Christmas smells like Christmas tree (of course), but as well it smells with fried fish, dried mushroom, cabbage, honey, candied orange zest, walnuts, raisins, poppyseed, spices like cinnamon, cardamom, ginger.

Polish Christmas flavours

So even though on the Christmas Day you will probably have some roasted meats – maybe ham, pork loin, beef roast, chicken, turkey or goose, or probably a few of those. There will be probably as well bigos and white sausage, but that doesn’t matter. The only day that matters is Christmas Eve and the standard Polish question would be “Will you make a carp for Christmas?”

So I’m sorry I can’t answer the question with simple yes or no. Being expat means being out of context and even though I’m a rebel that loves trying new recipe, when you ask me about Christmas I want you to understand what Christmas means to me.

You can read a little bit more about Polish Christmas traditions here and more Christmas recipes here. And now excuse me, I need to go and dice veggies for a Russian salad, mince poppyseed for a poppyseed strudel and make vegetarian pate with dried prunes.

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7 Comments

  • Reply Adrienne {Bake For The Border} December 23, 2013 at 11:04

    Polish Christmas sounds delicious! Hope you have a lovely Christmas Magda!

    • Reply Magda December 23, 2013 at 11:23

      Thank you Adrienne. I slowly start to have a space in the fridge for light only, so it should be good ;)
      I think Christmas around the world is delicious. I wish I could taste it all :) Have a lovely Christmas too Adrienne.

  • Reply Joanna December 26, 2013 at 01:03

    Ale sie usmialam! W sumie masz racje, nasza tradycja Wigilijna jest zupelnie inna w porownaniu do Amerikanskiej, czy Irlandcje czy nawet wieszosci krojow europejski. Jedzenie sie bardzo inne. Ja jestem zawszcze zafascynowana jak religia i polozenie geograficzne ma wplyw na kucznie i tradycje danego kraju. U nas kapusta, grzyby suszone, i inner perzysmaki, ktore sa dostepne w zimie, i brak miesa ( wply kosciola:) . Swietny post!!!! Mam nadzieje ze mile spedzilas Wigilie i masz fajne plany na sylwestra!:)

    • Reply Magda December 26, 2013 at 19:48

      No ja się nauczyłam/uczę się nie brać niczego za pewnik. W pracy mam Kenijkę dla której świąteczne posiłek to coś z grilla, wegetarianina. Szwedzi jedzą klopsiki, znajoma Włoszka czeka co roku na świąteczną lasagnię. Wg Wikipedii brak mięsa u nas to wynik czasów jeszcze pogańskich, wszak Irlandczycy też są katolikami. U nas święta i sylwester raczej spokojnie i bez planów, ale przynajmniej odpocznę za wsze czasy.

      • Reply Joanna December 27, 2013 at 05:51

        Masz racje co kraj to obyczaj. Ja to osobiscie bradzo lubie nasza tradycje:)
        U nas nadal w domu duze zamieszanie; kupa gosci i rodzinny na okraglo. Nawet nie mam za wiele czasu aby napisac post na moim blog.
        Sciska i zycze jeszcze raz wszystkiego najlepszego w nowym roku!!!! Zdrowia i usmichu i duzo ” followers”:)

        • Reply Magda December 27, 2013 at 18:09

          Ja mam ochotę zmienić nasze tradycje na własne, dlatego np kolejny rok z rzędu robimy gravlax zamiast karpia. Sama idea bezmięsnej Wigilii pachnącej grzybami i rybą uważam, że jest fajna, bo inna, tylko wciąż szukam przepisów, które będą moje ulubione :)
          U nas było spokojnie, tylko nas dwoje, więc mam nadzieję, że goście nie wymęczyli Cię za bardzo. Również Tobie wszystkiego najlepszego :)

  • Reply Russian salad or just a veggie salad - Magda's Cauldron December 28, 2013 at 18:07

    […] must confess to something. We’ve been talking here about Polish flavours like mushroom pierogi, bigos,  etc. And it may seem to you I’m so into those flavours. […]

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