Ahhh.... Christmas. Always enjoyed it as a kid. Still enjoy it as an
adult. My perspective has maybe changed a bit, but I still bake too much, cook
too much, and eat too much, though in a bit more moderation now.
This page contains three things, pictures from Christmas 2004, reflections on
Polish Christmas customs, and reflections on Christmas memories that I have.
Pictures -- Christmas 2004
||I love decorating outside for Christmas, and this year was no
exception. White seemed to be the outside theme this year, with
just a splash of color
||You can see I had "just a few" lights on the Christmas tree this
year. Well over a thousand. I had to go out and buy some more as I
ran out as I was putting up the tree!
||Another view. I guess nearly more than anything else, the Christmas
tree is the symbol of the Christmas holiday season.
||Did you know that if you bake the letter N upside down, it becomes a
||Pierogi central. Made about 100 pierogi this year, in three types:
sauerkraut with mushrooms, potatoes and cheese, and savory cheese.
Now who's gonna eat them all?
|Christmas Celebration at my house, December 23rd:
||The table is decorated for my Christmas dinner, held December 23rd.
Above: some views of my Christmas decorations
||Creighton, preparing to take a few photos before we eat.
||Mike and Rick, waiting for us to get the danged pictures over with
so we can all eat.
||Larry couldn't make it for dinner, but joined us later
||Me along with Rick and Creighton, relaxing on the porch. This is
Florida, after all!
|Christmas Day celebration at Creighton's--December
||The table all set. 10 of us eventually demolished the nice
setting and ate a good portion of a 14 pound prime rib, a huge whole
ham, spinach salad, fruit salad, potatoes, green bean casserole, and a
multitude of accompaniments. No one went away hungry!
||Creighton's Christmas tree. This gorgeous tree has 1800 lights
on it and lights up the room all by itself. If there was a
magazine devoted to Christmas trees, this one would appear on the cover!
||Creighton and Rick, pondering the workings of a camera.
||Hope and Joe, Creighton's sister-in-law and brother. The came over
for the holidays from their winter home in Land of Lakes, Florida.
||Marcelo and Rick in Creighton's den. There were 10 of us
gathered and a great time was had by all.
Polish Christmas Customs
I sent the following to a yahoo group that deals with Clark County
I will pass on some of my
family's Christmas traditions.
My great-grandmother was
Polish, from Skalat, now in the Ukraine, then a part of
Galicia. When I was young (very young), I remember going to my
Grandmother's house in rural Thorp (town of Withee) to celebrate
Christmas. My grandmother passed on the traditions she learned
from her mother. So eastern Poland traditions, I guess. My
mother and my family observe many of these traditions to this
day, as do I at home as well.
For Christmas Eve: We'd have a
meatless meal. The high point (to me) as pierogi...kind of like
large ravioli. A noodle-like dough, stuffed with either
sauerkraut and a few mushrooms, or with a mixture of potatoes
and cottage cheese. The Sauerkraut Pierogi were garnished with
fried onions. The Potato-cheese ones with sour cream. We also
had fish, potatoes,a huge bowl of mushrooms (home picked and
canned), canned fruit.....and a number of other accompaniments.
I mostly remember the pierogi (mmmmm).
As a part of the meal, at the
beginning, we'd share the Oplatek. It's a thin communion-like
wafer, broken into pieces, one for each. The head of the house
(my grandpa) would say some sort of prayer (in Polish) and we'd
all have to respond (in Polish) as well. The prayer was for
health blessings, and the response was an affirmation of that.
Then we'd dip the oplatek in honey and eat it. It always seemed
a very rich ritual and I do it to this day, though I don't know
the actual polish that went with it.
After dishes were done we'd
open presents (and this was the best part for us kids). It was
always a lot of fun and there were a lot of family there.
Through the course of the evening, other family may have dropped
in for a short visit, too. One year, Santa Claus even visited
(though my sister noticed that "Santa" was wearing the same
boots that Uncle Joe wore...and Uncle Joe was mysteriously
At midnight, we'd go to
midnight mass at "old" St. Hedwig's in the country. It was a
beautiful church. The mass would be in Latin and Polish, and the
Christmas carols all in Polish, led by a beautiful choir. Church
was always quite full. To this day, I love listening to Polish
Christmas carols. It was a very formal and solemn mass, and
After mass, we'd return home
and eat again and have snacks. According to my mother, we'd also
have golubki... pigs in a blanket, I guess you'd call them. Meat
and rice wrapped in cabbage and baked with a bit of tomato
sauce. This is the Catholic tradition of breaking the fast
(though for this occasion it was only fasting from midnight
until about an hour later...!).
In the morning, we kids would
get up and open our presents left overnight by Santa. Then, of
course, we'd eat again. And on Christmas day, we'd usually do
some visiting or have relatives drop by. There was always lots
of food. And thankfully, leftover pierogi, too!
Christmas was always a very big
deal in my Polish family, and we continue many of the traditions
to this day.
Reflections on Christmas memories
I sent the following reflections on Christmas memories to my family on
Seems like a good time for
me to write down some of the Christmas memories I have.
I remember being gathered at
Granma and Granpa Szczech's for Christmas Eve. Granpa said the
Polish prayer for the passing of the Oplatek, and then we all
had to respond "dai
boze milosierdzie." The prayer was a prayer for health
and prosperity and god's blessings on us and the family.
I remember going to midnight
mass at the old St. Hedwig's church, and hearing the choir sing
Polish Christmas carols--Koledy. It was a beautiful service, a
solemn high mass I guess. Mostly in latin, but also parts in
Polish (how could I tell the difference??). And a 15 minute
Polish sermon would the be given also in English--but would
mercifully have shrunk to only about 5 minutes.
I remember the Christmas
when Donna was born. In retrospect, the best Christmas present
I remember snooping under
mom and dad's bed one year before Christmas, there to discover
the ice skates I was going to get. Couldn't wait to open that
I remember the Christmas Eve
and Granpa and Granma's when Uncle Joe played Santa Claus. Jean
noticed that he was wearing Uncle Joe's boots. Well, of course,
I believe we did manage to put two and two together, but kept
quiet for the sake of George, Mary, and Donna (who, I believe,
to this day, believe that there is a Santa Claus and that he
visited the farm that night!).
I remember a few years ago
when I was up before Christmas, and making pierogi with Jean in
her kitchen. Was a good time, for sure.
I remember one year when
George and I were counting the pierogi we ate. I believe I
surpassed 12! (Last night I had 3--one of each).
I remember how Donna always
had to have the mushrooms, and we'd tease her and pass them to
everyone else first....but there were always enough for here
(sorry, Donna, but it was our cheap entertainment).
I also remember spending one
Christmas Day evening alone in Milwaukee. Was not a lot of fun,
but I did make the best of it.
I'll miss you all tonight
but be thinking of you.