Christmas Traditions

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Well that's it for another year. I hope you all had a wonderful festive season with your family and friends.

I LOVE this time of year, as soon as the tree can go up it does and the Christmas Carols start for the whole month of December and the excitement builds. The Carols by the Bay would have to be the kick off for the season for my family. We go every year with friends, have a picnic dinner and feel grateful for where we live and what we have.

My family has a Polish background, both parents migrated with their families to Australia and I am very thankful to my beautiful grandparents for making sure that their Polish traditions were celebrated by the family and continue to do so after they departed. There are some things that have been Australianized which is also nice.

I always take a Ho Ho Ho photo every year which the kids for the first time reminded me about this year. I hope this will continue through to adult hood.

We always have Borscht(Beetroot Soup) with Uszka (tiny mushroom tortellini) on Christmas Eve also known as 'Wigilia'. My grandmother always made it but after she passed away my Mum makes the soup and all the women and kids get together in mid December and make the uszka together which is fast becoming a new favorite tradition.

My children all LOVE the soup and had 2 big portions this year and are already looking forward to next year when they get to have it again.

In Poland there is no meat eaten on Christmas Eve. Carp is the chosen fish which I am not fond of and have vivid memories of helping kill the Carp the year I was living in Poland. So we have chosen not to follow that custom and we do the Turkey and Ham but will always have some seafood for nibbles.

One of the most beautiful and revered Polish customs is the "breaking of the oplatek". It is a thin wafer, made of flour and water and is white. They used to be baked and distributed from house to house in the parish during Advent. Now they are produced commercially and sold in religious stores.

The use of the Christmas Wafer is practiced not only by native Poles in Poland, but by people all over the world whose ancestors came from Poland.

The eldest member of the family reaches for the wafer, breaks it in half and gives one half to someone else, this is normally my Mum and her sister. Then each of them breaks a small part of each others piece and kiss each other and wish each other good health, joy and happiness, not only for the holidays but for the years to come. This is then continued amongst everyone who is present. I really enjoy this tradition the most and my children now also love participating.

We then sit down to a delicious meal, followed by kolendy (Christmas Carols). My grandmother and her 2 daughters would always sing a very moving song called Jesus Maleszenki (Baby Jesus)

This year the next generation(mine) also joined in. We then get to start opening our family presents which of course the children are very excited about. We have a children's Kris Kringle where they put in their list and get something from it from the family. Mine were over the moon to all get exactly what they wanted.

The tradition I have begun with my children is to make a gingerbread house every year that we make with carols blaring and lots of laughter. We are getting fancier as each year goes by. We then take it to Xmas Eve and the kids smash it down.

As a single parent I find Christmas Day very difficult when my children leave with their Dad. I am very blessed that my family celebrate on Christmas Eve so I never miss out but I still find the day tough without them.

This year I decided to volunteer at the Salvation Army lunch in Corio and am so pleased I did. I love being able to give back to my community and if I made someones day just a little brighter by serving them a meal and sitting and having a chat with them then it is all worth it.

I have come away from the experience feeling very fortunate that I am who I am and that my parents brought me up making me believe I could be and do anything I wanted to and that they gave me the tools to be able to live my life the way I do.

So that is it until next year. I wish you all the best for the New Year and thank you for all your support in 2011.

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