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All Things Christmassy in Poland

Atch 23 | 4,048
16 Dec 2015 #1
Ok then, let's see what you've got! Put all Christmas treats in this thread.

Polonius suggested that I regale you all with an account of my own family's Christmas and how it combines Polish and Irish elements. Luckily, I wouldn't dream of subjecting you to such a snooze fest. However I will say that I usually make the traditional British Isles Christmas cake and mince pies, neither of which my dear Polish husband likes but I love them. My first Christmas in Poland, when I offered the cake to guests, they looked a bit doubtful, but when they heard it had been made in October, that pretty much settled it. One of them refused to partake as they were convinced they would get food poisoning. The others, to be fair, nibbled politely at the very edges of their slices.

When in Poland for Christmas (as I am this year) I miss Christmas crackers. Haven't seen them anywhere and don't want to go all over Warsaw in search of them but does anybody know if they can be obtained? And what if anything, do other non-Poles miss at Christmas time?
Polonius3 994 | 12,380
16 Dec 2015 #2
How about a recipe for your Christmas cake and mince pie? If you haven't got it with you -- just the rough ingredeitns.
Roger5 1 | 1,449
16 Dec 2015 #3
And what if anything, do other non-Poles miss at Christmas time?

As a teenager I used to like standing at the back of the church with the sturdy fellas who were there to deter passing drunks from disrespecting midnight mass in heathen London. You'd always get a few lads shouting a bit of mockery, and we'd stare them down menacingly. It was a kind of right of passage when you'd be expected to man the door rather than just being tolerated.

I always thought midnight mass, with the carols, was much more enjoyable with a little anti-freeze taken beforehand. The Polish custom of not drinking on Christmas Eve has always struck me as a little excessive.
OP Atch 23 | 4,048
16 Dec 2015 #4
Well it's a struggle to make them in Poland because it can be hard to get all the ingredients - well ten years ago anyway I couldn't get glace cherries or mixed peel and my sister had to send them from Ireland, also I think I had trouble getting suet for the mince pies. Suet comes from around the kidneys of the cow and it's a peculiarly British delight! I have the Christmas cake recipe somewhere. I'll rummage around for it. The mincemeat for the pies needs to be homemade and you can make them either with shortcrust pastry or puff. I prefer the puff variety. Also add a good dash of brandy or whiskey to the mince mixture. Here's a nice recipe for mincemeat:

Bear in mind though that all these things are best made well in advance and the cake is at its best after at least two months.

By the way it's called mincemeat because the original pies of pre-Cromwellian days contained a mixture of meat and fruits. Before Cromwell's time they were baked in the shape of a crib with a little pastry Jesus but after Cromwell banned the practice it was never revived. Just as well really, imagine how fiddly it would be to make. Amazing to think that Catholics have something to be thankful to Cromwell for! That's Christmas.
Polonius3 994 | 12,380
16 Dec 2015 #5
traditional British Isles

Are there any indigenously Irish Christmas customs or delicacies not found elsewhere in the Isles?
OP Atch 23 | 4,048
16 Dec 2015 #6
The Polish custom of not drinking on Christmas Eve has always struck me as a little excessive.

Yes, I know, there's a vibe of penance about it isn't there?? That and the fish and no red meat, a bit like Good Friday.

indigenously Irish Christmas customs

Loads of customs, not so many dishes. As you know the majority of Irish were kept in a state of considerable poverty for much of their history whilst the Irish gentry and more prosperous merchants, tradesmen and farmers, even those who remained Catholic, adopted those English dishes that appealed to them.
Roger5 1 | 1,449
16 Dec 2015 #7
any indigenously Irish Christmas customs

My mother always put a candle in the front window to burn overnight on the Eve. It's a wonder that the curtains didn't catch, now I think about it.
16 Dec 2015 #8
Christmas in Poland is now a double delight for my wife and I, we have a traditional polish feasts Christmas eve where I cook some of my grandmas dishes,then we have a traditional English turkey dinner on Christmas day.

But yes ingredients can be difficult we fly to the UK and bring back a couple of suitcases of goodies (Including the Suet which we cant find here), its also a good opportunity to catch up with friends and family, exchange gifts etc.

I thought we might get a few problems with customs this time as I brought back ten silver foil containers of cooked lamb seekh kebabs in my hand luggage, the machine never went off, might try a leg of lamb next time.

P.S Tesco's are doing Mr Kipling fondant fancies and Christmas fruit slices. Oh and turkeys at 9.98Zl per kg
Roger5 1 | 1,449
16 Dec 2015 #9
leg of lamb next time

I saw British half legs in Lidl last week. I can't remember the price exactly, but I do remember uttering the name of Jesus and his parents.
Polonius3 994 | 12,380
16 Dec 2015 #10
English turkey dinner

Is roast goose no longer on the British Christmas menu? Poladn is Europe's top goose producers BTW.
16 Dec 2015 #11
Yes I saw the lamb at Lidl too and the price made me fall out of my pram , what do people in Poland do with lamb legs?, is it a new christmasy thing
OP Atch 23 | 4,048
16 Dec 2015 #12
indigenously Irish Christmas customs

Leaving the door unlocked overnight on Christmas Eve in case the Holy Family should come seeking shelter. Of course doors in rural Ireland were routinely left unlocked during the day (people simply walked into each others houses calling out 'God Bless All Here' to alert the inhabitants that they'd arrived. I know some older people who remember that quite well). But they were always latched at night, so this was quite special.

The candle in the window. Placing a lighted candle in an un-curtained window to guide travellers through the darkness and indicate that they were welcome to stop at your house. Bear in mind that as recently as the 1950s many parts of rural Ireland were without electricity and in fact some houses didn't get it until the 1970s. According to the older people who remember it, it was an amazing sight to walk back over the fields after the farm work, as dusk was falling and to see these lights visible all over the countryside for miles around.

Whitewashing the house. Not the best time of year for painting and decorating in the Irish climate! But a couple of weeks before Christmas cottages and farm buildings were whitewashed inside and out.

The Wren Boys(often pronounced the 'ran'. On 26 December the feast of St Stephen a group of boys would organise a wren hunt. The bird would be caught, killed and hung from a holly bush, the reason supposedly being that a wren was said to have betrayed the hiding place of St Stephen, leading to him being captured and stoned to death. I believe the boys used to go round from door to door displaying the wren. They don't hunt the bird anymore but the festival is still kept in parts of Ireland and the Wren Boys come out on St Stephen's Day.

So there's a few for you!

I saw British half legs in Lidl last week

Oh my God! I have a Lidl near me and I've been threatening to go in there for weeks. New Year's Resolution for me, stop procrastinating. I hope it wasn't one of those 'this week only' things.
16 Dec 2015 #13
Polonius, Duck is still on the menu in the UK, but I think it is an older generation thing now, youngsters go for Turkey, Turkey crowns, and a recent trend is A three bird joint where you put together Turkey,Duck and chicken, then wrap it all in bacon.

I find duck in Poland a bit disappointing the breast is very small and can sometimes come out a bit tough, can anyone tell me where you can buy good ones.
Roger5 1 | 1,449
16 Dec 2015 #14
what do people in Poland do with lamb legs?

I can't imagine. I'm keeping a close eye on them in case they halve the price. To be fair to Lidl, you can pay 15 GBP/kg for fresh lamb in the UK.

dolno, if you're ever round our way, my mother-in-law keeps ducks. They're free-range and very tasty. You could find someone local who keeps them, of course.
Polonius3 994 | 12,380
16 Dec 2015 #15
a new christmasy

Lamb in Poland is priced way out of the reach of the average Pole who wouldn't know what to do with it in the first place. But the marketplace now offers a wide range of products from all round the globe. Compared to average earnings many are priced sky-high.
16 Dec 2015 #16
Thanks Roger I will ask around to see who does free range Christmas ducks, but i will have to send in a friend to do the negotiating, as soon as they hear my Polish with a English accent the price will double.

Thanks for the mum in law offer , where about do you live, I'm near Boleslawiec.
OP Atch 23 | 4,048
16 Dec 2015 #17
as soon as they hear my Polish with a English accent the price will double.

Just stand your ground, if a little bit of a woman like me can do it, you can! My Polish is abysmal and I'm an obvious foreigner whilst you're almost native.

Here's my tip for bargaining. Decide how much you're prepared to pay for something (my yardstick is, if I wouldn't pay that for it in Ireland, I'm not paying it in Poland), bring cash with you and have it at the ready, not in a wallet, no fumbling, clutched in your sweaty little paw in you pocket. When you hear the price, if it's more than you want to pay, produce the nearest amount in cash that you're willing to pay and wave it saying 'I have only x amount'. You'd be surprised at how often it works. The sight of actual money makes quite a difference. Also if you're going near the end of the day or end of the week, traders are anxious to make a sale so you have a better chance. Well that's my advice anyway. Maybe others have some different strategies?
Polonius3 994 | 12,380
16 Dec 2015 #18


So there's a few for you!

Nice! Go raibh maith agat! They are generally in the style of typical Polish folk customs. Must be the common Catholic heritage!
16 Dec 2015 #19
Thanks Atch I will give it a go
OP Atch 23 | 4,048
16 Dec 2015 #20
Go raibh maith agat!

Ná habair é (don't mention it!) Pronounced 'naw hobber ey'.
Polonius3 994 | 12,380
16 Dec 2015 #21

I think you could probbaly get suet frrm the small bucthers at Hala Mirowska or Hala Marymoncka, maybe Banacha too.
jon357 74 | 21,815
16 Dec 2015 #22
Marks and Spencer sell it. More useful than from a butcher since it's already in the right form.
Polonius3 994 | 12,380
16 Dec 2015 #23
sight of actual money makes quite a difference

You must have some unknown Polish genes -- that's how it was during the commie years. The restaurant or hotel was all full up, but flash a zielony załącznik (green in$ert -- in a pinch a wad of PRL-era play money) and suddenly all doors opened up. "No loo paper, what a shame, and here I was hoping...." and presto the shop assistant shot back with: "How many rolls did you say you need?"
Roger5 1 | 1,449
16 Dec 2015 #24
Just back from the shops. The (on topic Polish Christmas) Lidl lamb is now down 16% to just (!) 49.90.

  • Lidl today
Polonius3 994 | 12,380
16 Dec 2015 #25
Those look like traditional bone-in so that makes them even pricier in terms of edible meat.
Roger5 1 | 1,449
16 Dec 2015 #26
That's right. The joint in the picture was 125PLN before the reduction. It'll have to be half that before I'm half tempted.
16 Dec 2015 #27
Just read Lidls Christmas catalog 14th-20th they have Guinea fowl available 19.99zl kg Might give it a go cheaper than the lamb but still proper capitalista eating.

Roger let me know how much meat you get once the bone is out.
OP Atch 23 | 4,048
16 Dec 2015 #28
125PLN before the reduction. It'll have to be half that before I'm half tempted.

Agree. You know, I really couldn't bring myself to eat that at Christmas of all times. How could you justify spending what might be a week's food budget for some Polish families and knowing that there are people going through bins in Warsaw even as we speak. Even with the reduction you'd have to think more than twice wouldn't you?

On a happier note, excuse the pun, is the Ukrainian Carol of the Bells sung in Poland at all? It's quite beautiful. Here's a link to a lovely rendition:

Ukrainian carol sung by an English choir (Libera) in an Irish Cathedral:
Polonius3 994 | 12,380
16 Dec 2015 #29
Christmas customs

Nobel Prize winner's Christmas glimpses
Wigilia peasant style

Christmas, the commemoration of Jesus' humble birth in a stable some two millennia ago, is experienced at many different levels. It is a religious experience, permeated by national and family traditions. The classic literary depiction of the Old Country Christmas of our Polish immigrant ancestors was created by self-taught Polish author Właydysław Reymont who won the 1924 Nobel Literary Prize for his novel "Chłopi" ("The Peasants").,1142,1450277687493

Please read rules 11,12 and 13 before copying and pasting
Roger5 1 | 1,449
16 Dec 2015 #30
dolno, I can't see me buying that lamb. The guinea fowl, however, does look really good. Each bird is about a kilo, so after cooking I reckon one could feed two people, three at a pinch.

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