This weekend, Rich and I spent a few days in Michigan celebrating Christmas with my family and friends. Friday night we spent some quality time with my Dad. Saturday morning, we got a swim in at the gym where I used to work out growing up with my Dad. (It was exactly as I remembered!) Saturday night, we celebrated an early traditional Polish Christmas Eve with my family. Sunday, I had my high school friends over for our 9th Annual Dirty Santa Christmas Exchange! I can’t believe it’s been nine years of gift exchanges but I’m so lucky to have stayed in touch with those friends for so long!
Today, Rich and I are attending mass and then we’ll be hosting my in-laws and brother-in-law for a traditional Wiglia dinner! Wigilia is the traditional Polish Christmas Eve and is something that I’ve celebrated since I was a little kid. Since Rich’s Grandma was Polish, Wigilia is something his family is familiar with. Even though my Mom wasn’t Polish, she did her research and we followed all the traditions every year growing up. I’m happy to continue the tradition with my new family!
Here are a few of the “rules” to Wigilia dinner:
-Dinner starts when the youngest family member finds the first star in the sky
-Hay is set underneath the table cloth to represent Jesus in the manger
-Before you eat, everyone breaks the traditional wafer, called Oplatek, and exchanges good wishes for health, wealth and happiness in the New Year. The Oplatek is a thin, unleavened wafer similar to the altar bread in the Catholic Church.
-The dinner itself differs from other evening meals in that the number of courses is fixed at seven, nine or eleven. (I’ll be serving nine) According to myth, in no case must there be an odd number of people at the table, otherwise it is said that some of the guest would not live to see another Christmas.
-An extra plate is set at the table to represent those who are no longer with us or an unexpected guest that may stop by
-Wigila is a meatless meal, which stems from the traditional rules from the Catholic Church
-My family always eat the traditional dinner of mushroom soup with mashed potatoes, fish (I’ll be serving salmon tonight), pierogi, green beans, nalesniki (crepes filled with fruit) and for dessert we typically have Chrusciki (angel wings)
-Christmas Day is usually a non-event, “spent in rest, prayer, and visits to various members of the family.” (I did my fact checking here)
What are some traditions you follow with your family? Any new traditions you’ve started? Do you put more emphasis on Christmas Eve or Christmas?