My name is Marta and I come from South East region of Poland. Today I would like to share with you a cherished Polish tradition of singing Christmas Carols.
Carols, which are usually simple songs about the events in Bethlehem, following the birth of Jesus, his parents and the people who came to pay tribute to him. Undeniably, these songs are coming from religious narratives related to religion, but their popularity, development and evolution of form have made them traditionally sung and loved by most people, regardless of religious views.
In my region of Poland, one more special Christmas tradition is common. There are carolers who go around houses to express heartwarming wishes and sing Christmas carols. This ritual is believed to bring prosperity and abundant harvests in the new year to the homes visited. Carolers are usually a group of several young people dressed up in costumes, wandering from house to house with a handcrafted decorative stars made of paper. The group sings carols and shares Christmas and New Year's wishes, and sometimes act out funny scenes or performances. As a thank you, the carolers receive sweets and sometimes small coins or even paper notes what gives a great joy and happiness to all kids.
In my family, Christmas Eve dinner usually starts with singing one famous Christmas Carol, afterwards we say prayer together for all family members, including those ones who reside only in our memories.
Another very famous Polish tradition embraced by me and my family every year is sharing a wafer (known as opłatek in Polish) with each person present at the Christmas Eve Dinner. Crafted from white flour and water, this bread symbolizes the unity, forgiveness, friendship and family bond. When everyone is ready to start Christmas eve celebration we gather around the table, each of us takes a piece of wafer and we share it with each other wishing all the best.
Traditionally, for our Christmas dinner we prepare 12 different dishes as symbol of 12 apostles. Of course, it is challenging to be able to eat so much so in my family after every meal we sign a Christmas carol. Sometimes it is sang by all of us, sometimes just by kids, or multi-voices performances. As my family become international, we also sign Christmas carols in foreign languages following the native speakers being with us.
I wish you lots of precious and joyful moments during Christmas this year, and maybe singing Christmas carols can also become a tradition at your home?