Poland’s Christmas Dishes

September 25, 2019

Last month I presented some of Poland’s Christmas traditions.  Now I will post some links to recipes for some traditional Polish Christmas dishes.  But, first, some fun with this little video.

 

http://www.pwaa.org/Polish_Christmas_Recipes.htm

https://culture.pl/en/article/the-12-dishes-of-polish-christmas

http://www.polskafoods.com/polish-recipes/how-polish-christmas-wigilia-recipes

https://www.polishyourkitchen.com/polishrecipes/polish-word-of-the-day-christmas/

https://www.thespruceeats.com/polish-christmas-dessert-recipes-1136988

Happy eating!

 

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Christmas in Poland

August 25, 2019

Upside down Christmas treeChristmas in Poland is all about family. As often as possible Christmas activities are done by the whole family together.

Modern Christmas trees, pajaki, did not appear in Poland until the 1800’s. Early Polish Christmases did not see a Christmas tree. Instead elaborate, handmade mobiles were hung from the ceiling. In the 1800’s in southern Poland tops of fir trees were cut and hung upside-down from the ceiling. This allowed for more room for the family while still giving them a chance to hang their ornate, handmade decorations.   Once the custom of bringing whole Christmas trees into the house began the popularity of mobiles and upside-down trees waned until they finally disappeared. Christmas trees may be set up any time during Advent; but, traditionally, they are not set up until the afternoon of Wigilia, December 24. Many people do not take them down until the Feast of the Purification of Our Lady, February 2. Homemade garlands, paper cut-outs, apples, nuts, candy, and small cakes decorate the trees along with store-bought decorations, strings of electric lights, strings of peas, beans, and corn and blown-out egg shells painted with intricate designs.

Nativity scenes are often placed under the Christmas tree to be joined by the family’s gifts later.

Creating and sending Christmas cards is becoming more popular in Poland. It provides the family a great time of making and sending Christmas cheer to friends and loved ones.

Advent begins on the fourth Sunday before Christmas. Like Advent celebrations in other parts of the world it is a time for reflection and fasting preparing oneself for the coming of the Christ child. A number of saints’ days are celebrated during Advent, St. Martin on November 11, St. Catherine on November 25, St. Andrew on November 30, St. Barbara on December 4, St. Nicholas on December 6, St. Lucy on December 13, and St. Thomas on December 21.

On December 24 everyone prepares for Wigilia. Wigilia is considered the first of the twelve days of Christmas or Gody in Poland. The house is given a thorough cleaning with attention given to barns and other outbuildings as well. Many families also visit family graves placing evergreen boughs or small evergreen trees on them. Food preparation is also a major component of Wigilia. The scrumptious smells permeating the house test the piety of the household as they are still in a period of fasting. Hay is placed either under the tablecloth or as part of the centerpiece to commemorate Christ’s birth in a stable. As evening draws near children make it a game to see who sees the first star to appear. The Wigilia feast starts with the appearance of the first star or 6:00 p.m. whichever comes first. The family enjoys many fish and/or vegetable dishes at this feast as eating meat is not allowed until Christmas day. After the feast, usually the eldest family member present reads the Nativity story followed by the family singing Christmas carols. Following the singing comes the gift-giving. Larger, more expensive gifts are for the children while smaller, more personalized gifts go to adults.

At midnight many families head to the church to attend Pasterka, Shepherd’s Mass. After mass some families will spend the night visiting friends, neighbors, or relatives.

Christmas day is spent with the immediate family. Now that the fasting of Advent is over the main meal at Christmas, served in mid-afternoon, features lots of meat.

December 26, St. Stephen’s Day, is almost treated like a second Christmas. Many families spend the day visiting friends and extended family members.

New Year’s Eve, the seventh day of Christmas (Gody), is celebrated with loud parties with family or friends

New Year’s Day, also known as the Feast of the Circumcision of Our Lord, is a day for playing tricks on friends and family members.

The twelfth day of Christmas (Gody) falls on January 6, the Feast of the Epiphany. This day commemorates the visit of the Magi to the Christ child.

Christmas in July

July 26, 2019

Today I am seeing more and more references to Christmas in July.  From Rankin/Bass’ Rudolph and Frosty’s Christmas in July to store advertising using that theme.  Movie channels on TV play Christmas movies and music providers play Christmas music again for a short time.

I do not mind it at all.  I listen to Christmas music whenever I want to listen.  I watch Christmas movies whenever I want to watch them, too.  I even watch Rudolph and Frosty’s Christmas in July in July.  Why?  Because it ends shortly after the “final firework fades on the Fourth.”

Here is a short video on some of the origins of Christmas in July.  I have not verified all the claims, but I have heard or read most of them.  I hope you enjoy it.

I am also including the trailer for the movie Christmas in July referenced in the video.  You may want to add it to your watch list this year.

Perhaps you do something to celebrate Christmas in July.  If so, please let me know in the comments below.

Merry Christmas in July!

Halfway to Christmas

June 30, 2019

It’s official.  We passed the halfway mark to Christmas.

Here’s a cute, little animated Christmas show for you to enjoy.  I’m also including two microwave Christmas recipes.  We all need more time at Christmas, do we not?

Merry halfway-to-Christmas!

Tangy Mustard-glazed Ham

½ cup packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons dry mustard
2 tablespoons apple or orange juice
4 to 5 lb. fully cooked boneless whole ham
Whole cloves

In a small mixing bowl, combine all ingredients, except ham and cloves.  Mix well.  Set aside.

Score top of ham in 1-inch diamond pattern, cutting ¼ inch deep.  Insert 1 clove in center of each diamond.

Place ham scored-side up in 10-inch square casserole dish.  Cover cut surface with plastic wrap.  Insert microwave meat thermometer.  Microwave at 50% (Medium) for 30 minutes.

Brush ham with prepared glaze.  Microwave at 50% (Medium) for 10 to 15 minutes, or until internal temperature registers 130 degrees Fahrenheit.

Decorate ham with quartered orange slices during last 5 minutes, if desired.  Let stand, tented with foil, for 10 minutes before carving.  (Internal temperature will rise 5 to 10 degrees Fahrenheit during standing time.)

 

Orange Pumpkin Pie

1 pkg. (15 oz.) refrigerated prepared pie crusts
2 teaspoons sugar
1 ¼ teaspoons ground cinnamon, divided
1 tablespoon milk
1 can (16 oz.) pumpkin
1 can (14 oz.) sweetened condensed milk
2 eggs
1 teaspoon grated orange peel
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
Red and green candied cherries

Heat conventional oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.  Let pie crusts stand at room temperature for 15 to 20 minutes.  Unfold 1 crust, ease into 9-inch pie plate and flute edges.

Combine sugar and ¼ teaspoon cinnamon in small bowl.  Brush edges of crust lightly with milk.  Sprinkle about ½ teaspoon sugar mixture.  Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, or until lightly browned.  Cool.

Use remaining crust to form pastry bow and ribbon.  Cut 4 strips, each 8 inches by ¾ inch.  Place 1 strip on baking sheet.  Cross at center with another strip.  Secure strips together, using a small amount of cold water.  Form bow over center of crossed strips, squeezing gently in center.  Brush bow and ribbon lightly with milk.  Sprinkle with remaining sugar mixture.  Decorate center with red and green cherries.  Bake at 425 degrees Fahrenheit for 6 to 8 minutes or until lightly browned.  Cool.

Combine remaining 1 teaspoon cinnamon and the remaining ingredients in medium mixing bowl.  Beat at low speed of electric mixer until mixture is smooth.  Microwave at High for 4 to 5 minutes, or until mixture is very hot and starts to set, stirring once or twice.

Pour into prepared pie crust.  Place pie plate on saucer in microwave oven.  Microwave at 50% (Medium) for 15 to 21 minutes, or until center is set, rotating 3 or 4 times.  Using spatula, carefully loosen bow and ribbon from baking sheet.  Place on top of filling.  Cool.

Candy Canes – a Custom of Christmas

May 26, 2019

view of christmas decoration

Photo by Brigitte Tohm on Pexels.com

The candy cane started out about 400 years ago as a plain stick of white candy. As Christmas trees became popular in Europe people began putting them on their trees as decorations along with other foods like fruit and cookies. The first reference to these candy sticks in relation to Christmas came in 1670. A choirmaster at the Cologne Cathedral in Germany gave the candy to the children that attended the church’s nativity services so they would be quiet. To make the candy go along with the spirit of the services he bent the candy into the shape of a shepherd’s staff.

The first reference to the candy cane in America came in 1847 when a German immigrant living in Ohio named August Imgard decorated his tree with the sweet treats. About 50 years later the first candy canes with red stripes appeared. Peppermint and wintergreen flavors were also added to the candy at this time making the candy cane the sweet Christmas favorite it is today.

The candy cane, as with many other things that we associate with Christmas, can be used as a symbol of Jesus and point others to the reason for Christ’s birth. Here are some pictures of Christ that we can see from the candy cane.

  1. The candy cane is in the shape of a shepherd’s staff. Jesus is our Good Shepherd, and we are His sheep. (John 10:11; Psalm 23:1; Isaiah 40:11)
  2. Upside down the candy cane forms the letter “J”, the first letter of Jesus’ name.(Luke 1:31)
  3. The candy cane is made of hard candy to remind us that Jesus is the Rock of our salvation.
  4. The wide red stripes on the candy cane represent the blood He shed on the cross for each one of us so that we can have eternal life through Him. (Luke 22:20)
  5. The white stripes on the candy cane represent the virgin birth, sinless life, and purity of our Lord. He is the only human being who ever lived who never committed a single sin, even though He was tempted just as we are. (1 Peter v22)
  6. The narrow red stripes on the candy cane symbolize that by His stripes we are healed. (Isaiah 53:3)
  7. The flavoring in the candy cane is peppermint, which is similar to hyssop. Hyssop is of the mint family and was used in Old Testament times for purification and sacrifice. (John 19:29, Psalm 51:7)
  8. When we break our candy cane it reminds us, just as communion does, that Jesus’ body was broken for us. (1 Cor. 11:24)
  9. If we share our candy cane and give some to someone else in love because we want to, it represents that same love of Jesus because He is to be shared with one another in love. (1 John 4:7,8)

Happy Easter!

April 20, 2019

He is risen!

I apologize for all the ads that may appear with this video.  I wanted to share the story that started at Christmas and gives us hope at Easter.  I hope you share this story with someone today.

Happy Easter!

Leprechauns and Christmas

March 25, 2019

Here is another Rankin Bass Christmas show I hope you will like.  This time they combine the leprechauns of Ireland and St. Patrick’s Day with Christmas.

Enjoy and Merry Christmas!

 

Christmas Trains

February 25, 2019

For many years, trains have played a big part in Christmas celebrations.  Big or small, it is difficult to not smile and enjoy the look and joy of a train decorated and run for Christmas.

Many homes display trains going around the Christmas tree or weaving their way through a Christmas village.  Stores and malls across the world run trains in their Christmas displays.  Tourist trains run Christmas-themed trains in the weeks before Christmas.  Even big railroads like Canadian Pacific run Christmas trains touring areas served by the company.

I have started a small Christmas-themed layout.  It will progress slowly as I get the money and the time to work on it.  One side of the layout will show a small town at Christmas time; the other will be the North Pole complete with Santa Claus.  I hope to have trains running this Christmas, but the layout will be far from complete.

Until we celebrate Christmas again enjoy these Christmas trains.

Merry Christmas!

Christmas Carols

January 25, 2019

Every year, usually around October and November though I have seen them all year round, we are inundated with memes telling us it is too early to listen to Christmas music.  Personally I listen to Christmas music whenever I feel like.

When I was growing up radio stations did not play Christmas 24/7 in the weeks leading up to Christmas like some do now.  The radio station I frequently listened to would play 1 Christmas song at the top of the hour the first week of December.  The second week of December they played 2 Christmas songs, one at the top of the hour the other at the half hour.  The third week of December Christmas songs were played every 15 minutes.  Then came my favorite time of the year.  Starting at 6:00 p.m. Christmas Eve the station began 30 hours of Christmas programming.  It was wonderful.

When I was a teenager I usually listened to Christmas music using cassette tapes I owned or copied from the radio for at least a month in June or July.  One year not too long ago using headphones so I would not bother my coworkers I listened to Christmas music every Friday throughout the year.  I reasoned since Friday is the happiest day of the week I would play the happiest music I could find.  I think there is no music happier than Christmas music.

Now I no longer limit my listening to Christmas music.  I have added Christmas episodes of old-time radio programs.

I love listening to Christmas music.  I still listen to it anytime of the year whenever I feel the need for a quick pick-me-up, a boost to my Christmas spirit.

My favorite Christmas songs are Twas the Night Before Christmas by Fred Waring and His Pennsylvanians and Silent Night by Mannheim Steamroller.  I also must hear songs by Andy Williams, the Ray Conniff Singers, and Mannheim Steamroller.

What are your favorite Christmas songs?  Let’s start our own list.  Perhaps we can use that list to make a great Christmas playlist.

Merry Christmas!

Happy New Year!

January 1, 2019

May the coming year be filled with many blessings, few disasters, many memories, few break ups, good health, and fulfillment in your daily life.

Happy New Year!

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