martes, 23 de diciembre de 2008

Christmas in Poland

our Christmas

Traditionally, Advent is an important season in the Polish year, with special church services, known as Roraty, being held every morning at 6am. The four Sundays of Advent are said to represent the 4,000 years of waiting for Christ.Before Advent beeswax is poured on water, and fortunes are told from the shapes which emerge.Special tasks carried out during Advent are the baking of the Christmas piernik or honey cake, and the making of Christmas decorations.

Pierniki are made in a great variety of shapes, including hearts, animals and St Nicholas figures.

Beautifully lit Christmas trees are placed in all public areas, outside churches and in homes. Traditionally the trees are decorated with shiny apples, gift walnuts, beautifully wrapped chocolate shapes and many homemade decorations and candles. On the top of the tree is a star or a glittering top piece. In many homes, sparklers are hung on the branches of the trees giving it a magical air. Sometimes the trees are left standing until February 2nd, the feast day of St Mary of the Candle of Lightning.
During Advent, the Gwiador or star carriers, used to begin wandering through the towns and villages and this would continue until Epiphany. Some of the Gwiadors sang carols, others recited verses or put on Szopi or puppet show, or herody or nativity scenes. The last two customs are developments from traditional manger scenes or Jaselka or crib.

Christmas Eve, Wigilia, is an important part of the Polish Christmas, in fact, the most important rituals are celebrated on this day.

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