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All Things Christmassy in Poland


Dougpol1 33 | 3,409
26 Dec 2015 #151
Before you chuck out your Christmas tree please remember that in Poland the Christmas season lasts from the start of Advent until Candlemas (2 Feb).

I know Polonius. I know. I get sick of the bloody tree after New Year, but the lady of the house so wishes that it stays 'til said date. Terrible:(
Polonius3 1,000 | 12,448
26 Dec 2015 #152
that it stays

But when do you set it up? If it's on Christmas Eve, then that's not so long a period. In America some people set theirs up in late November right after Thanskgiving (4th Thursday in Novmeber) and chuck it out on 26th Dec. (no boxing day in the US).
Dougpol1 33 | 3,409
26 Dec 2015 #153
But when do you set it up?

3 days ago :) I agree that America (and the rest of the western world) have it the wrong way round.

In Britain Christmas is over at 12 midnight today :)
TheOther 6 | 4,086
26 Dec 2015 #154
in Poland the Christmas season lasts from the start of Advent until Candlemas (2 Feb)

Christmas at home was a party on the beach at 30 C/ 85 F. Can't imagine to do that for two months in a row... ;)
Polonius3 1,000 | 12,448
26 Dec 2015 #155
Christmas is over at 12 midnight today

What about the fabled British (12 Days of Chrsitmas) and Twelfth Night (we call it Three Kings in Poland). I know you don't inscribe the initials of the Three Wisemen over doorways in the UK (K+M+B - 2016), but aren't there any customs connecetd with it anymore?
OP Atch 17 | 3,086
26 Dec 2015 #156
What about the fabled British (12 Days of Chrsitmas)

aren't there any customs connecetd with it anymore?

Ireland saves the day again Polly! Christmas ends officially on 6 January. Decorations come down then. It's said to be bad luck to leave them up after that. It's known as Little Christmas and also Women's Christmas especially in Cork and Kerry where the men take on the housework for the day and the women often meet for an outing or lunch party. When I was a child the Three Kings did not go into the crib until 6 January as they supposedly did not arrive in Bethlehem until then. It was very annoying to a child, as they were beautiful figures so my lovely mother used to line them up on the table near the crib to show them making their journey........I was a lucky child.
Polonius3 1,000 | 12,448
26 Dec 2015 #157
Three Kings

In Poland the figures of the Three Kings are also added on the 6th January but cribs and trees stay up till 2nd Feb. Municipal Christmas decorations often stay up far beyond that, attesting not to any tradition but only to the sluggishness or negligence of municipal services.
Roger5 1 | 1,458
27 Dec 2015 #158
Municipal Christmas decorations often stay up far beyond that, attesting not to any tradition but only to the sluggishness or negligence of municipal services.

That's a little unfair. I'm glad our town's beautiful decorations stay up until Candlemas. This winter has been extremely gloomy so far, and the lights cheer up the place no end. This year they are projecting moving snowflake patterns on the ratusz, and it looks great.

Twelfth Night

A very old tradition with pre-Christian origins, aka the Feast of Fools, when the usual social order was overturned (see Shakespeare's eponymous play). At the old universities the dons would serve the students dinner.
Polonius3 1,000 | 12,448
27 Dec 2015 #159
stay up until Candlemas

So am I. I'm talkingn about public decorations still not taken down in late February and even March. Also the Christmas lights on trees and shrubs outside private homes in Poland are not always turned off right after Candlemas.
johnny reb 20 | 4,595
27 Dec 2015 #160
By the New Years day the Christmas tree is a mere tinder box from being dried out.
A fire hazard to say the least.
I take ours outside and lean it against the birdfeeder so the small birds have a place to hide from the hawks and owls.
(At least it gives them a chance.)
Then in the spring I throw the dried up old thing on the burn pile.
What ever anyone's Christmas tradition may be is one thing, common sense safety is quite another.
You can continue to celebrate Christmas until Easter if you wish but a Christmas tree and lights are hardly required to do it.
Polonius3 1,000 | 12,448
28 Dec 2015 #161
Christmas tradition

Thanks to Warsaw Archbishop Cardinal Nycz we now have the Cavalcade of the Three Kings (Orszak Trzech Króli). Its a colourful family-religious pageant that wends its way through the streets of Old Town to a nativity stable for group carolling. Camels, horses, knigths and pages, marchers in paper crowns (that shoudl strike a respondent chord amongst Brits), even a creche-making contest. Watch for it on 6th January. By then even PF's Bacchic wing should be back in circulation!?
delphiandomine 83 | 17,900
28 Dec 2015 #162
Watch for it on 6th January.

Thanks Polo, I'd forgotten that it was a holiday. Means that I'll only work 7 days in January, which is fine by me.
Dougpol1 33 | 3,409
28 Dec 2015 #163
work 7 days in January

Mmm - I very much resent this silly extra holiday, because I'm a freelancer and it's restraint of trade.
delphiandomine 83 | 17,900
28 Dec 2015 #164
You're not the only one. A friend that owns a mid-sized language school in Poznań that deals with corporate clients (mostly) told me that this year, he's pretty much not going to make any profit for the year because he's got the decency to make sure that his teachers at least get minimum wage for December/January, even though it's almost certain that they won't actually earn it as most classes will be cancelled throughout December and January.
Levi 12 | 450
7 Jan 2016 #165
Merry Christimas to all orthodox friends!
OP Atch 17 | 3,086
14 Oct 2016 #166
Last year Polonius asked me for a recipe for traditional British/Irish Christmas cake. I thought maybe some other members might like to try making one, so I intend to share my favourite recipe shortly as it needs to be baked well in advance for the flavours to mature. I'll be doing mine before the end of the month. In the meantime, prepare ye thy tins!

You can make it in a round or square tin but the lining process is crucial. As Alan Partridge might say, I cannot emphasise that enough. Slow cooking is vital, otherwise the cake will be dry so the tin needs insulating from the heat of the oven. You need an 8 inch cake tin for this recipe.

You line it with a double layer of baking parchment and then do my granny used to do, take at least four thicknesses of newspaper, wrap it round the outside of the tin and tie it in place with twine or cotton string. The newspaper needs to come up a bit higher, about 2 inches, than the height of the tin to shield the top of the cake from excessive browning.

You can also start gathering your dried fruits. They need to be soaked in brandy or whiskey (Irish only please, Hennessy's Cognac or Jamesons). I once tried French brandy and it just haven't the potency of Hennessy's. Also I wouldn't touch Scotch whiskey on principle!

You need:

250g raisins
250g sultanas
250g currants
125 gr mixed peel
250g glace cherries (chopped) I've never been able to find them in Poland :(

About two days before you plan to make the cake you place the fruits in an airtight container and chuck a wine glass full of brandy or whiskey in with them.

In the next instalment I'll give you the full ingredients list and the method. The actual making of it is easy peasy. It's the baking process that's a b*stard as you can never be sure how it will come out, but sure that's all part of the joy of Christmas and if it's a complete fiasco you can always console yourself by polishing off the remains of the brandy or whiskey.
Wincig 2 | 199
14 Oct 2016 #167
I once tried French brandy and it just haven't the potency of Hennessy's

?? But Hennessy is French brandy (the H in LVMH stands for Hennessy). Admittedly the founder was Irish but the product has always been made in the Charente region of France.
OP Atch 17 | 3,086
15 Oct 2016 #168
Yes, I know, it's one of those weird Hiberno-isms that we think of Hennessy's as Irish. The Hennessy family are aware of that themselves. A grocer in Dublin told one of them that during a boycott of French goods by customers one woman refused to buy 'that French stuff' but 'I'll have a bottle of Hennessy's'! They retain very strong links with Ireland even after all this time. Frederic actually lives in Cork in the family's ancestral home Ballymacmoy House.
TicTacToe
15 Oct 2016 #169
If you put Whiskey in a traditional English Christmas Cake wouldn't it be a Whiskey Dundee cake?.

I always thought you soaked Christmas cake with Sherry, mind I hate Christmas Cake and mincepies so am probably wrong.
OP Atch 17 | 3,086
15 Oct 2016 #170
Dundee cake is a much lighter fruitcake. The traditional Christmas cake is very dark and moist. Just adding whiskey to a Dundee cake doesn't turn it into a Christmas cake. You can soak the fruit for a Christmas cake with anything you like, but you also have to feed the baked cake with alcohol for several weeks before Christmas and whiskey or brandy is the best choice for that.
Dreamergirl 4 | 276
15 Oct 2016 #171
What cake do polish people have at Christmas?

In all seriousness I'd love to try to make a Christmas cake, but I couldn't eat it if it's got booze in it because of the baby. Any ideas atch?
OP Atch 17 | 3,086
22 Oct 2016 #172
Here's the Christmas cake recipe in full:

NB it uses plain flour not self-raising and you shouldn't add any baking powder. Raising agent is not a good idea in a rich fruit cake.

A couple of days before making the cake mix the following ingredients in an airtight container and leave them to absorb the flavours:

250g each of raisins, sultanas and currants
125g each of mixed citrus peel, flaked almonds and chopped glace cherries (I found them recently in Auchan so you can get them in Warsaw anyway)

I heaped tablespoon each of raspberry jam, good quality marmalade and treacle or golden syrup (those can be hard to find in Poland but you could use maple syrup).

1 wine glass of brandy or whiskey

On the day that you make the cake line your tin as described previously. An 8 inch tin should be fine, square or round, I prefer square and it should be about 4 inches deep. Preheat the oven to a very low heat. Christmas cake must be cooked very slowly for several hours for the best result. You know your own oven best, but as a general guide you should be ok with 140 degrees or gas mark 1 or 2.

Cream together 250g of butter or marg and 250g of soft brown sugar.
Beat four large eggs in a separate bowl and gradually add to the mixture.
Then sift together in another bowl, 450g of plain flour and now in you're in trouble because with your flour you should have something called 'mixed spice' which is pretty much unknown outside Ireland and Britain. You can make it yourself but you'll need to make a little jar full and then just use a teaspoonful in your cake:

Here's how it's done:
A tablespoon each of allspice, cinnamon and nutmeg
2 teaspoons each of ground coriander, ground cloves and ground mace
1 teaspoon of ginger
Shake them up together and hey presto!

Add a teaspoon of that to your flour and also a teaspoon of cinnamon and a quarter teaspoon of nutmeg.
Gradually fold in the flour and spices with a metal spoon and then add the fruit mixture which has been soaking.

Put your mixture in the tin and smooth out the top. I find the best way to ensure it's even distributed is to put an equal dollop in each corner of the tin and draw the towards the centre. If you're not going to ice your cake with marzipan/royal icing, then you can decorate the top now with nuts before it goes in the oven.

Off it goes into the oven. Do not check it for at least three hours. After that test it with a skewer and if it comes out sticky - carry on baking. This is the tricky part as unless you're well accustomed to your oven, there's no way of telling how long it will take. It once took eight hours for this cake to cook at gas mark 2 !! But it was absolutely delicious and so moist. A bonus is that the house will be filled with the most delicious smell while it's baking. If you think that the top is getting too brown before it's cooked through, you can place a piece of tinfoil over it. It'll protect it from burning. When a skewer comes out clean the cake is done. Pierce the top of the cake with a skewer in about ten places and brush it with brandy or whiskey. Then let it cool completely in the tin ideally overnight. Next day wrap it in baking parchment and tinfoil and put it a cool dark place. About once a week until Christmas you should feed it with some more brandy/whiskey in the same manner as before, wrap it up and put it away again. About a teaspoon is usually enough.

It should be iced a couple of days before Christmas, with marzipan icing which you can make from ground almonds Loads of recipes for that on the internet, very straightforward. It's really just eggs, sugar and ground almonds and I usually add some brandy to the mixture too. You roll it out and drape it over the top and sides of the cake. Brush the cake with warm apricot jam first as it helps the icing to adhere to the cake. Tradtionally Royal Icing goes on top of this, it's like the white icing on a classic wedding cake. When I was a child we had the hard Royal Icing, very brittle, but in recent years a soft fondant variety has become more popular. Although it's great because it gives you a lovely base for decorating, it's really just too sweet and sugary for me, so I just do the marzipan and decorate the cake with marzipan fruits and some baubles, with a big ribbon tied round the outside.

For me Christmas just doesn't feel like Christmas without 'the cake', sitting there on a side table in all its festive glory, waiting to be cut, as central to an Irish Christmas as the tree or the presents. Smacznego!


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