Christmas in Poland

How do I wish someone there a Happy Christmas?

  • Wesołych Świąt

When do they give presents?

  • Christmas Eve, between dinner courses

Who brings the presents?

  • Father Christmas

What’s on the menu?

  • Wigilia, the Christmas Eve dinner, consists of 12 dishes. These include soups, fish, pierogi (dumplings), cabbage and desserts including gingerbread. Anything but meat, which is avoided on Christmas Eve.

Any other traditions I should know about?

  • The big feast on Christmas Eve doesn’t start until the first star appears in the sky. This is to commemorate the Star of Bethlehem.
  • An empty place is laid at the table for the Christmas Eve dinner. This is for anyone who arrives during dinner, with tradition stating any strangers should be allowed to join the feast.
  • Before the meal, the host gives out pieces of opłatek - a wafer blessed by a priest. Everyone shares a small piece with everyone else at the dinner before sitting down.
  • Legend says animals get the gift of speech on Christmas Eve. This is to thank them for their role in welcoming Jesus into the world.