Christmas trees, lights and colorful ornaments usually come to mind when we think about Christmas. However, in Poland, Christmas celebrations are always related to feasting and unique dishes served only during the traditional Christmas Eve dinner. Similarly to Easter, Poles have rich culinary traditions as they celebrate The Birth of Christ. The preparations start many days before Christmas because traditionally there are twelve dishes served during the Christmas Eve dinner. Today, not every Polish household follows this custom but even if there are not exactly twelve dishes, they are very unique and rarely served at any other time of the year. Moreover, the number twelve is very symbolic; there were twelve apostles and twelve months in a year.
Wigilia dinner is traditionally a meatless fare. Fish, such as carp or herring is often served. Other typical dishes include cabbage stew with mushrooms, Christmas Eve borscht with dumplings or barszcz z uszkami and dumplings with various fillings or pierogi. For dessert, there’s poppy seed roll or makowiec, honey-spiced cake or piernik, fruit cake, fruit compote and gingerbread cookies orpierniczki. In some parts of Poland, kutia is served, a very unique dessert with wheat and honey. Similar, but not so sweet is makówki, a dessert made of bread, poppy seeds and honey. Makówki is a South – Western Poland delicacy and kutia is popular in Eastern and Central Poland.
Polish Gingerbread Cookies
10 dkg or 4oz of honey
7 flat teaspoons of spices (ginger, nutmeg, cloves)
1 tablespoon of water (should be added to honey)
30 dkg or 10oz of flour
30 dkg or 10oz of butter
8 teaspoons of sugar
2 teaspoons of baking soda
Dissolve spices with honey and a teaspoon of warm water and let the mixture cool down. In a large bowl, combine and knead flour, butter, sugar, eggs and honey. Place dough in the refrigerator for half an hour. Cut into desired shapes with cookie cutters. Put on a greased form and heat oven to 150 degrees Celsius or 300 degrees Fahrenheit and bake for about 20min.