Thursday, December 21, 2017

Christmas Eve traditions, customs and dishes

It's that time of the year again, when I am missing Polish traditions and my family overseas. The time which feels the most magical and peaceful out of all days in a year.
To me, it's Christmas Eve - Wigilia.
I posted previously about many traditions and the sequence of the Christmas Eve dinner. Somehow, I feel the need to share my sentiments with the readers again, as this day is approaching fast.

My favorite tradition is stated in this saying: "May you never be too grown up to search the skies on Christmas Eve". Waiting for the first star to appear in the sky used to be my favorite and the most exciting part of the evening as a child. Besides opening my presents after the dinner, of course. Part of it must be because it feels really mysterious to search the skies, and another must be the excitement of eating food after all day of fasting!
Do I still look at the sky? - you bet! Some people are searching for Santa's sleigh, others for a star that guided the Three Wise Man to Bethlehem to find Baby Jesus. It's a beautiful tradition. I cherish it so much that I want to pass it to my children. It's totally fine with me if they search the skies twice that night - for the first star before the dinner and for Santa's sleigh before bedtime. Double the magic! As I know from my own my experience, searching for the star stays with you as you get older. 😉

Another very important tradition that I cherish each year is Oplatek (wafer) sharing, thanks to my Mom who shares it with us! It always comes with wishes of good health, love and luck for the next year.
Even though, we're having a very small Christmas Eve dinner this year, I'm excited about the tradition of wafer sharing with Polish Christmas carols being played in a background. Our children will also open one Christmas Eve present that night. I'm thinking about starting to call it a "Christmas Eve Box", as a way of combining Polish and American traditions of opening gifts on different days.

Let's talk about food a bit, too. It is much more different than here in US.
Polish Christmas Eve dinner consists of 12 dishes. Almost in each household, there are 12 dishes on a table. Number 12 is referred to the number of the Apostles and months of the year. Tasting each of the dishes is believed to guarantee strength and luck. Since no one wants to have a bad luck until next Christmas, majority of guests overeat. Dishes vary depending on a region of Poland and the most popular are:

  • Choice of soup: red borscht (made of beets), white borscht (sour rye soup) or mushroom soup,
  • Uszka - mini dumplings filled with mushrooms 
  • Pierogi filled with sauerkraut and mushrooms
  • Fried, baked fish with carp being a main dish
  • Herrings - pickled, in cream, and in many more variations 
  • Bigos - combination of sauerkraut and fresh cabbage with mushrooms and spices (cooked on low for a long time, preferably a couple of days). Non-fasting version includes meats and sausage. 
  • Kutia - pearled barley with poppy seed, raisins and nuts
  • Egg noodles with poppy seed
  • Dried fruit kompot - dried fruit soaked in water and cooked (includes dried apples, plums, pears and apricots)
  • Makowiec - poppy seed cake roll
  • Piernik - gingerbread cake

and many more treats, salads and side dishes.... Can you handle it???

Here are the links to my piernik and baked paszteciki/pierogi recipes. I'm not missing out on having paszteciki this year!


Before I finish, I have one more thing worth sharing with you all. I'm going to end this blog post with a fun custom, which many of you might find weird. I remember my dad doing this. It's a custom of putting a carp's scale into one's wallet. Why? To ensure wealth for the entire year. You never know what your Polish friends might carry in their wallets! 😄

Here you go! A little summary of traditions surrounding Polish Christmas Eve Dinner. For more, please visit my older post Wigilia.
I hope that you have a beautiful, joyful Christmas.

Wesołych Świąt Bożego Narodzenia!!!

The Royal Castle, Warsaw.
By: Krzysztof Korczak

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Placki ziemniaczane

With natural yogurt and dill
Placki ziemniaczane ("potato pancakes") are a slightly different version of hash browns...
In Poland, placki ziemniaczane make a good, cheap and comforting meal.
Serve them with sugar, sour cream, cottage cheese or natural yogurt. Add some dill, radishes or spring onion.

Placki ziemniaczane:
6 medium potatoes, grated or cut into small pieces if using a food processor
Half onion, chopped
Salt & pepper to taste
2-3 Tbsp flour
Oil for frying

Mix all ingredients (or blend them in a food processor) and heat oil in a frying pan. Place full tablespoons of potato mixture in a pan. Flatten with spatula and fry for 3-5 minutes on each side or until golden brown. Drain on paper towels, sprinkle with granulated sugar and serve warm. You can add other toppings (mentioned above) if you wish. 

Tuesday, May 28, 2013


The Neptun Hotel
- a beautiful landmark on the beach
Source: private albums

I Love Łeba, and I'm not alone here.
Once you visit this charming town located on the Baltic Coast (North of Poland), you will fall in love and want to return. 
There are many reasons why I love this place. Here are a few: large and sandy beach, beautiful sunsets, tasty fried fish, lovely harbor, many, oh so many activities to do, and on top of that: my family lives there! 
Łeba is perfect for leisure and summer fun, but it's also great throughout the year and offers variety of activities for each season.
Here are only a few things to consider doing when visiting this picturesque town, besides swimming and sunbathing:
  1. Słowiński Park Narodowy (Słowiński National Park) - a huge attraction! This Park belongs to the UNESCO's World Biosphere Reserves. It is famous for shifting dunes, that are unique in a world scale. Impression that you get is like being in the middle of the desert :o) Słowiński National Park is also a home for different bird species (260 types of birds). Peat bogs, meadows, woods and four lakes: Łebsko,  Gardno, Dołgie Wielkie and Dołgie Małe create the perfect environment. A must-see!
  2. Windsurfing and kitesurfing. There is a school with professional instructors located near the Sarbsko Lake - 2 km outside of Łeba.
  3. Kayaking on the Sarbsko Lake.
  4. Horse riding. A stable is located in Nowęcin village, outside of Łeba. Horse riding on the beach and horse riding camps are available.
  5. Fishing!
  6. Lots of biking routes.
  7. Camping sides.
  8. Nordic walking (especially in spring and fall). Check out this Nordic Walking School with professional instructors located at Zdrowotel Łeba. (
I hope, that you are convinced to visit!

When the sun goes down ...
Source: private albums

Lifeguard standing a watch on a rainy day
Source: private albums 
Beautiful summer evening
Source: private albums

What a view on a rainy day - at the harbor
Source: family pictures

Swans don't mind rainy days
Source: family pictures
Łeba's beach in winter
Author: Elzbieta Pietruszewska

Saturday, May 25, 2013


Sweet memory from childhood. 
Yet, another one :o)
Whenever my mom would buy coconut macaroons, I was literally in heaven!
In Poland they are called "kokosanki".
Cute name, huh? :o)
Well, today I made some, and after tasting/sampling/stuffing my mouth with them, I'm ready to share the recipe with you. 
Warning: pure sweetness!
Yield: around 15 macaroons 
Recipe from "Good Housekeeping" magazine, modified (I didn't dip macaroons in chocolate)

2 1/2 c. sweetened coconut flakes
2/3 c. sweetened condensed milk
1/3 c. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. vanilla extract
pinch of salt

1. Preheat oven to 350º F and grease a cookie sheet.
2. Stir dry ingredients first, then add condensed milk and vanilla.
3. Drop spoonfuls of batter onto a cookie sheet.
3. Bake for 15 min or until golden on bottoms.
4. Let cool. I didn't... :o) They taste the best cold, but who cares... 

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Flag Day

Flag Day was established in 2004, and falls on May 2nd every year.
Polish flags dancing in the wind can be seen already on May 1st (Labor Day - Swieto Pracy) which is usually the beginning of a "long weekend" in Poland. May 3rd brings another national holiday and that is Constitution Day - Swieto Konstytucji 3 Maja.
That's lots of time off this year ;-)
Happy long weekend everyone!

Friday, March 8, 2013

Happy Women's Day!

Dzien Kobiet!
Just wanted to take this opportunity to wish all of us CooL women a wonderful and surprising day! :o)

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Don't forget to grab a doughnut today!

It's this time of the year again!
Fat Thursday - Tlusty Czwartek!
Busy with my baby, I didn't realize it until today. My family and friends have been posting pictures of paczki (doughnuts) since early morning and my mouth is watering now...
Thanks guys! ;-)

If you are not participating in Paczki Eating Contest, you still need to eat at least one paczek today! If not, the rest of the year might not go too well for you... ;o)
This excuse is good enough to indulge in this sugar & fat pleasure. Fine with me and with many Poles! :-D

Let me also recommend another popular Fat Thursday treat: faworki.
Crispy, mouth watering, simply delicious! Mmmm... Mmmm.... Mmmm!
You can find out how to make faworki under the Recipes/Food category.
Happy Fat Thursday!