"Christmas Around the World" logoNovember 2003-January 2004
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Poland
Polish flag Boze Narodzenie
Polish tree
 
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A traditional Polish Christmas could begin as early as November 12, St. Martin's Day, with the roasting of a goose for a feast. On the eve of St. Andrew's Day, November 30, Poles sometimes tell fortunes by pouring hot wax into a pot of cool water. As the wax cools, shadows are cast on the wall and they are said to depict what to expect in the new year. Dreams on that particular night are supposed to tell of the future.

In Poland, the religious celebration of Christmas begins with a 24-hour fast that does not end until the first star is sighted on Christmas Eve, at which time the family gathers for a Christmas dinner. Places are set at the table for everyone, even the family members who are unable to attend. A little bit of straw might be placed under the tablecloth as a reminder of the manger in Bethlehem. Christmas Eve is considered a magical time when animals are said to talk in human voices, and people have the power to predict the future. There is a Polish saying, "As goes Christmas Eve, goes the year," so everyone tries to be as polite, generous, and forgiving to one another as possible so they can expect the same from others in the next 12 months.

The Choinka, or Christmas tree, is usually topped with a star and features ornaments made of natural materials depicting rural lifestyles. Red is a favorite national color so there are red glass ornaments, ribbons and fabrics adorning the tree. Making ornaments to hang on the tree on Christmas Eve is a tradition followed by some Polish families, along with the singing of Christmas songs, and opening of gifts from Santa.

A customary Polish Christmas could last until January 6, the 12th night, or even until February 2, Candlemas Day.