Christmas Customs

Part Of A Beautiful Legacy

by Henry J. Dende

On Christmas Eve, millions of families with Polish backgrounds will take part in customs they have been observing since childhood, cognizant of the symbolism they are upholding.

In America, people thrive on tradition, yet, many of the most meaningful and beautiful traditional practices are remnants of customs brought back from other nations.

The Polish customs, especially at Christmastime, are both beautiful and meaningful. Unfortunately, all too often the elder Polish immigrants to this country do not think that the younger generation would be interested in knowing what some of the customs actually symbolize.

Perhaps memories might be revived and interest heightened if a few of the stories of Christmas in Poland were retold at the traditional family Christmas Eve dinner. The Polish American Journal carries stories and items pertaining to traditional Christmas customs in Poland. By reading them, you will refresh your memories and particularly, you may become inspired to revive the wigilia (Polish Christmas Eve supper) in your home this year.

We appeal to all of you, especially to the Americans of Polish descent--second, third or fourth generation, to uphold the beautiful tradition of "wigilia" at which time the wafer (oplatek) is shared with the exchange of good wishes. It fits our American pattern. It is a tradition that is typically Polish and is adaptable to the American way of living.

Every family of Polish descent should possess recordings of Polish Christmas Carols (koledy and pastoralki)--once you and your children hear them, you will cherish them forever.

Beautiful Carols (Koledy)
The Polish Christmas Carol, "koleda" is derived from the Latin word "Calendae," meaning first day of the month.

Koledy are very joyful songs announcing the coming of Christ, on earth and through His grace, the rebirth of our souls.

We of Polish background, have an abundance of the most beautiful carols (or koledy), beloved by all Polish people, very deeply and religiously. They are sung with reverence and sincerity which has a great significance and meaning to a Pole.

Some of the more popular Christmas carols are: "Jesus, Heaven's Infant" (Jezus Malusienki); "To The Town of Bethlehem" (Przybiezeli Do Betlejem); "Let Us All Go," (Pojdzmy Wszyscy); "Rejoice Bethlehem" (Dzisiaj w Betlejem): "God is Born", (Bog Sie Chrystus Rodzi); "Midst Quiet Night", (Wsrod Nocnej Ciszy": "Hush-A-Bye Little Jesus", (Lulajze Jezuniu).

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