…food traditions! I learnt during my research that Poland and Greece have rich Christmas culinary traditions! Let’s explore them…
Jak będzie Wigilia, tak będzie caly rok.
— “As is wigilia, so is the entire year,” a Polish proverb
I found the Polish Christmas celebrations more focused on tradition than just the food, and these traditions do make for very interesting reading. In trying to keep my posts relatively short, I’ll once again post a link for greater detail of the celebration and the foods eaten. There is a huge assortment of desserts, one of them is Makowiec, a poppy seed cake, pictured here!
For days in advance, Poles prepare the traditional foods and everyone anxiously awaits the moment when the first star, known as Gwiazdka, appears in the eastern sky, and then the feast begins. The Christmas Dinner is known as Wigilia (pronounced VEE-GEEL-YAH), meaning ‘Vigil’, and is meatless. Under the tablecloth is spread a thin layer of hay in memory of the Godchild, Jesus, in the manger. They first break the traditional wafer, Oplatek, and people exchange good wishes for health, wealth and happiness in the New Year. The wafer is known as the ‘bread of love’ and is often sent to absent members of the family. The link posted here will give more information on the entire celebration: http://easteuropeanfood.about.com/od/christmaseve/a/Polishxmas.htm
Traditionally, Easter is more important than Christmas in Greece. The nation’s three most important holidays are Easter, Christmas and the Assumption. Christmas tends to be a private, family holiday. People eat a meal of roast turkey stuffed with chestnuts, pine seeds, meat and raisins. In some area the meat may be a roasted piglet, accompanied by baked potatoes, salads and soups. Lamb too is popular. A variety of desserts are made, some amongst them ‘kourabiedes’, pictured here! Once again, here’s a link to more on the Greek celebration of Christmas: http://greekfood.about.com/od/festivalsholidays/tp/christmas_traditions.htm
While it’s been fun for me to research all these food traditions, I regret I can’t keep writing only about the traditional Christmas foods and this is the last in the series. However, I found fascinating, and delicious sounding dishes from many other cultures notably Romania, and several countries in Central and South America.
Merry Christmas, everyone!…and by the way, in the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth countries people traditionally said, and many still do say, Happy Christmas! I said it all my life while living in India, until I came to North America, and now find it sounds weird :)! The American ‘Merry Christmas’ is becoming more popular everywhere now!