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Poland - Christmas traditions & customs


The lucky children of Poland receive presents twice. On St. Nicholas' Day, the good saint himself brings presents. On Christmas Day, it is the Star Man.

The Star of Bethlehem is the most popular image in the Polish Christmas. It is the first star of Christmas Eve, which marks the end of the Advent fast and ushers in the time of feasting. Though Christmas in Poland is officially known as Bozz Narodzenie, it is most often referred to as Gwiazdka, which means "little star." Once the star appears, a special rice wafer blessed by the parish priest called oplatki, is broken into pieces and shared by all. Finally the meal can begin.

The feast consists of twelve courses, one for each Apostle. The table is always set with one extra seat in case a stranger or the Holy Spirit should appear to share the meal. After supper the Star Man arrives attended by the Star Boys. They are dressed fantastically, as Wise Men or animals or other figures from the nativity. The Star Man examines the children in their catechism and rewards them with small presents if they do well, even if they need a bit of coaching. The Star Boys sing carols and are given a treat for their help. After the fun, all go to Pasterka, the midnight Mass of the Shepherds.

 
 


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