Thursday, December 04, 2008

We say Wesolych Swiat

"Did you know that Jodi is Jewish and that Mary celebrates Cinco de Mayo?" Jay jumped off the school bus and shared yesterday. "And Jodi celebrates for eight days. Eight whole days, Mama!" I took his backpack off and smiled at his eagerness to share new information with me. "Why can't we celebrate things like Jodi and Mary do?"

"What do we celebrate, Mama?"

Jay's kindergarten class is focusing on traditions this December. Each child is required to share a family tradition through a recipe, poster, pictures, book and/or any other ways that will highlight the family tradition.

"We celebrate Wigilia, Jay. That is what we celebrate. And we say Wesolych Swiat!" I told him when we finished the assignment.


FYI... Jay's "tradition" assignment is written for an audience of five and six year olds. Jay helped me choose the photos, placed them in chronologically order, and helped explain our tradition of how we celebrate Wigilia. It's a presentation that will be projected on the wall from a computer, much like a power point presentation, shown in his class next week.



One of our traditions, in our Polish family, is how we celebrate the day before Christmas.

The day before Christmas is called Christmas Eve. In Poland it is one of the most special days of the year. It is called Wigilia, pronounced... vi'gi:lja

Our tradition begins when the youngest member of our family sees the first star of the night. That means we can light our candles and prepare for our celebration.





Once the candles are lit we begin our celebration by passing around and sharing our Christmas wafers. Christmas wafers are called Oplatki. Each family member gets one wafer, we break off a little piece and offer it to one another while wishing them good luck, good fortune, and good health in the new year.


Here is a picture of me offering an oplatki to my aunt. "Have a happy new year!"
I share a piece of my oplatki with everyone and wish them Wesolych Swiat or Merry Christmas.



When everybody in our family has exchanged blessings it is time for the eldest member of our family to lead us in prayer. We sit down at one table. The table has hay under the white cloth to remind us that Jesus was born in a manger. The white cloth reminds us of what Mary used to keep Jesus warm. We always leave an empty chair for a missing relative or last minute visitor. Wigilia is about family.


On Wigilia we do not eat any meat. There are usually 12 different things to eat because there will be 12 months in the new year. The things we eat on Wigilia are potatoes, pierogi, mushrooms, fish like carp and herring, cabbage, soup, and lots of yummy desserts.


After dinner the children light sparklers to guide Santa to our home and the adults sing Christmas carols, also to guide Santa.



Because of all the light sparklers and loud singing, Santa always finds his way and arrives with gifts for everyone.


In order to get a gift from Santa, you have to show him what you learned in the last year. We recite poems, sing songs and carols, play instruments showing Santa how much we have grown and learned. Our big family gathers for the show in one room.



Once you have shown Santa something that you have learned, he gives you a present.




Once everyone in the family has gotten their presents we say good-bye to Santa.


We sing some more carols as he leaves and wish him good luck on his journey around the world.



When Santa has left, we open all of our gifts, from him. We stay up very late playing with our new toys and the adults eat desserts. More family and friends arrive to celebrate Wigilia with us.
On Christmas morning, we have an enormous breakfast full of meat. Pork, sausage, bacon, and an assortment of deli meats. Once our bellies are full we exchange presents with our family that are left under the Christmas tree. Santa does not leave us presents under the tree. We then go to church.

That is one of the
best traditions in my family. The day before Christmas is actually a more important celebration then Christmas itself, for our family and all of Poland.

79classy comments:

Anonymous said...

You are so blessed :)

anglophilefootballfanatic.com said...

That's wonderful. My hubby's been giving me a hard time for doing St Nicholas' Day and Epiphany presents and only three from Saint Nicholas (not Santa) on Christmas. I'm showing him this post.

Manager Mom said...

What a great tradition! Except for the meat part. I haven't eaten meat in about six years. Not a philosophical thing, it just kills my stomach.

You are a lucky and lovely family. :-)

Rhea said...

I love your traditions. They are so meaningful and full of love and family. Thank you so much for sharing this!!!

The White House said...

That is so wonderful! Thank you, Jay for sharing this special time with us. I am counting on Fifi to really point out that first star so y'all can light the candles. Can't wait to see what y'all have learned this year and what Santa will give you in return!

testingthesewings said...

OHMommy, this is one of my favourite posts!

I love your tradition, and it reminds you what the season is all about... We also leave a chair empty - for my Grandfather -he's been too ill to come to Christmas for the last three years, but every year we hope the hospital will call and say he's good today...

:-)

Hope you and your beautiful family have a wonderful Christmas!

MommyTime said...

This is really beautiful, and I love that he helped narrate and choose photos. It's so wonderful to hear these things in our children's own voices, isn't it? Today, we made "Lucky lists" where we each wrote down things that made us feel lucky in our lives. My son chose things that surprised me a lot, but that tell me a lot about him. This, too, your traditions, are lovely and revealing. I hope you have a wonderful holiday season.

Marshmallow Circus said...

I love hearing about Christmas traditions! We celebrate Three Kings Night as a way to incorporate our children's heritage. :)

Mama Smurf said...

I really, REALLY enjoyed this post! Thank you for sharing this piece of your heritage with us.

Raising Z said...

Jay, you did a wonderful job on your presentation. Your teacher and class will be very impressed. Thank you so much for sharing your family traditions. It is nice to see how other families celebrate the season! Wesolych Swiat!

Domestic Extraordinaire said...

This was great! I had a wonderful time learning about your Christmas Eve tradition. That sounds wonderful.

♥spoiled mommy♥ said...

Aww, thats so sweet!
What a wonderful way to celebrate and a sweet tradition.

I know his presentation will be a huge hit!Way to go jay!

Indy said...

Where do you find the time to do everything you do? Christmas cards done. Boot camp daily. Shopping. Blogging. Twittering. Facebook. Two blogs. Homemade meals every night. Baths. My head is spinning. I really don't know how you do it all. Crack? Ha! Just kidding my friend.

momof3crazykids said...

Thank you so much for sharing this with us. That will be a great presentaion for him to give.
I love learning how other cultures celebrate the Christmas Holidays.

Stacy said...

Love it! Those are the sweetest photos & kudos to you for carrying on your cultural traditions...especially for you children :)

enthalpymama said...

Beautiful!

Jay @halftime lessons said...

Wow...what a great thing to share...thanks so much for this post, and for taking us through this...it was so nice to understand your perspective.

Jay

Janah @ So Not Mom-a-licious said...

Thank you so much for that! I love knowing what others do in their family. Traditions are so important and great and I also think it is special to share them with others (like leaving a chair for a guest)!

The 5 Bickies said...

I love hearing and seeing your tradition. It looks like a blessed time together.

Kimmylyn said...

This was beautiful..what a beautiful tradition.. Loved the pictures that went along with the story..

Noob Mommy said...

I love how you leave an empty seat at the table, and how the children have to reflect on something they learned! I think we will be borrowing that tradition as well when Noob Baby is older. Christmas Eve is also more important than Christmas in our family because my parents have always worked Christmas day. They own their own restaurant :)

Elizabeth said...

so wonderfully and beautifully special & blessed. thank you so much for sharing!

April said...

Somehow I just knew your celebration would be quite the event!

Kat said...

Now THAT is how you celebrate Christmas Eve! Wow! Sounds wonderful! :)

Buttermouth said...

Besides for the whole meat part, I absolutely love our traditions.

I also love blog posts that have sooo many pictures of me...although I don't really think that red is my color.

Lisa@verybusymomwith4 said...

How cool is that?! That is sucha great tradition and I bet your kdis will pass them to their lids!
We are soooo WASP there is nothing too unique here ;)
But...psssttt...Jay needs to to tell his friend Mary that 'Cico de Mayo' is not in December--it literally means 'The 5th of May' and it's about Mexican Independence...that reminds me we do have tamales on Christmas Eve and that reminds me I have not had Tex-Mex in almost ten days ;)

Blessings From Above said...

Jay, you did awesome on your project!

This sounds like a wonderful tradition. I especially like the idea of putting "hay under the white cloth to remind us that Jesus was born in a manger and the white cloth reminds us of what Mary used to keep Jesus warm." What a great way to remember the true meaning of Christmas.

Bronnie said...

What a lovely post and wonderful tradition. I have never heard of the Polish tradition before and enjoyed it very much. I love hearing how other people celebrate special times.

Lisa@verybusymomwith4 said...

Sorry for those top typos--that would be That is such a great tradition and I bet your kids will pass them to their kids!
I need to to go to bed!

CC said...

What a cool tradition!!!!

Rachel said...

That is absolutely fabulous darling.
Thank you so much for sharing this with us. I love hearing different traditions and different ways of celebrating. The pictures are beautiful. thank you.

MWAH!

Leslie said...

Wow, what a wonderful tradition! Thanks for sharing that with us!

Kelley said...

Oooh I love hearing other peoples traditions!

MPS is Hungarian, and his family was all about Christmas Eve too.

Oh and your cup of tea is getting cold woman.

DysFUNctional Mom said...

Remind me again, when are you adopting me?
Those are amazing traditions!

the planet of janet said...

this is awesome. i love learning about others' traditions.

Jennifer said...

what wonderful traditions...The pics are fabulous:P

Cheri @ Blog This Mom! said...

That is so awesome.

Thank you for sharing that!

kim-d said...

Thank you so much for sharing your Polish traditions; I love hearing how others celebrate! And, I love pierogi :).

Jay did an excellent job of putting his class presentation together!

UrbanVox said...

Classy! ;)

Scary Mommy said...

I love that tradition--- beautiful!!!

I've been having to explain why we get 8 nights of gifts but no Santa for weeks. So happy to hear it goes both ways!

Megryansmom said...

It's wonderful that you are keeping the tradition alive. Be proud of your heritage Jay and Wesolych Swiat. I hope Mikolaj brings you something very special this year.

LceeL said...

How very lucky your son is to be growing up in such a family as yours - where there is a focus on tradition and where the notion and concept of 'family' is so strong. How very lucky.

Flea said...

Oooh! My husband's family celebrates Christ Eve in a huge way, complete with the oplatek (dang - can't remember how you spelled it, but we always say "uhpwotek"). I think that's my favorite part of the evening. And the pierogis!

Jessica said...

Lovely!

Robyn said...

Jay should get an A+ on his presentation!

Thank you for sharing your beautiful traditions with us, I had never heard of Wigilia before. What a special, special night.

Kelly said...

Thanks for sharing your tradition with us. That was really neat to read and what a lovely tradition!

Kel said...

Wow-that sounds like a magical time. What a wonderful tradition!
~K

Tracey said...

Thanks for sharing, hon. It sounds as though you guys have a lot of family to share your holiday with. That's what it's really about...

Lisa said...

what a wonderful story! Please let Jay know that I learned something!!! And what a great teacher he must have!!! (both at home & at school!)

Tara R. said...

This is awesome! I love multi-generational traditions like this. All of Jay's classmates are going to want to come to your house for all the fun.

Stephanie said...

Awesome! I learned something, too! ;oD Hope he gets an A!!!!

Courtney said...

I love it! What a wonderful tradition to have, to be surrounded by family.

Kalle said...

What a great tradition. Thank you for sharing your tradition and culture with us. The kindergarten class will love it.

Rima said...

That sounds a lot like our Lithuanian Christmas Eve tradition - Kucios. My husband had a hard time getting used to the pickled herring and cold fish pancakes for Christmas Eve dinner, but I think he's coming around.

Smart A$$ Mom said...

That sounds so neat. What a fun experience. I think traditions are the most amazing. Now if only I could be in your area on Christmas Eve to snag that extra chair!

Tee aka The Diva's Thoughts said...

Thanlks for sharing your traditions with us! How great!

Elaine A. said...

Oh that is so wonderful that you passing all of those traditions on to the next generation. Absolutley wonderful.

I love all the pictures, they were perfect for your story...

Colleen - Mommy Always Wins said...

I ♥ these type of traditions. Reading this made me sad - almost the entire Polish side of my family is long gone, and with them, their traditions. (And the Polish my Grandma taught me when I was young? I might be able to get that back through hypnosis one day...)Beautiful.

BTW - love Santa's work gloves. ;-)

Every Day Goddess said...

Thanks for sharing your traditions! That was so great. We also find Christmas Eve special. We do the Midnite Mass all together. It is much easier now that the kids are older :)

Vikki said...

I love hearing about other's family traditions. What a great way to celebrate your heritage and the season!

Ashley said...

That's great! I've never ever heard of that particular tradition before! You know what would be cool? A blog carnival of traditions!

Ellyn said...

What a beautiful celebration.

Krystyn said...

What a great story and tradition. Thanks for sharing it with us.

Jay did a great job with his story of his tradition.

JustADad said...

Even in my "blogging break", you and your family remain as classy as ever!

I've missed you! *grin*

ps...
changed my "handle" from MrJourneyman to "JustADad"...just because *wink*

Amy said...

What an awesome tradition! Thanks for sharing it with us. I really enjoy learning about how others spend the holidays.

Steph @ Diapers and Divinity said...

very cool, OHmommy, very cool.

Chelsea said...

Beautiful! Thanks for sharing that.

Crystal D said...

That sounds like so much fun. I love hearing about other people's traditions. I am looking forward to celebrating this year, I just have a million things to do before then. :)

mommynotes said...

This is awesome! I love hearing different family traditions.

We also have more of an emphasis on Christmas Eve. We get together with my mom and grandmother and eat a nice dinner. We used to go to Christmas Eve service but have not since Sarah was little. We open presents and play and watch Christmas movies and eat desserts. We go to bed and wake up have a big breakfast and go over to my husband's parents for family time and a meal with them. We used to exchange presents but the economy has hit my father in law hard to we do not exchange any more. They will get the girls one little gift. I love getting presents but really I would rather be with family.

Sarah had to write different things that are associated with her traditions around this time.

I know Jay enjoyed sharing his cool Christmas traditions!

MamaWise said...

I love Wigilia. We carry on this tradition in my household as well. It is my absolute favorite thing about Christmas.

carrie said...

Thank you for sharing that very special tradition with us! J is sure to get an "A" on his presentation! :)

Diva Ma said...

This is a extra sweet post. Makes me wanna start some family traditions that my kids can remember forever and pass on!

Nan Patience said...

Awesome!

Mom2Amara said...

I fear the Oplatki. Seriously! I'm always afraid I'll sound like a bumbling idiot when we pass it around.

Marketing Mama said...

That is so awesome!!! Love it! I learned something new and am in awe of how special your tradition is! :)

3 Peanuts said...

ABSOLUTELY LOVELY. I loved reading about your cultural family tradition.

Kim

Jaina said...

What a neat tradition. Thank you so much for sharing it with us!

denise said...

I love the tradition. You sound like you do it in a way that is fun for the kids and makes them feel special. My family celebrates Russian Orthodox Christmas. I remember always feeling so different than the other kids. Although the plus for me, my cousins and friend was we all got to miss a day of school! I admit it was better when I had my cousins and friend with me in the attendance office together. You know there is safety in numbers!

Doesn't it get so annoying to see all the stores getting ready for Christmas before it's even Thanksgiving. The commercial business has really ruined Christmas for me. I have decided that this is going to be the year I enjoy Christmas again. I am putting up a tree and decorating, making the cookies and doing things for the less fortunate. Let's hope this fixes my Grinch spirit. I have a new nephew to be thankful for now!

secret agent mama said...

Absolutely beautiful!

 

Blog Designed by: NW Designs

Original Header and Concept by: Judith Shakes