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Christmas table

Christmas Eve is here... I want to slow down and embrace it, be very present with my loved ones, see their smiles and receive Baby Jesus sending me His smile from the manger. The gatherings usually happen by the table so no wonder it has to be prepared beautifully.


I started my table decoration by making my own nativity scene. I have been shopping for a nativity for a while with no success. I get sad that Christ is being excluded from the holiday in many other ways, so I made sure He has a place at my table.



What I believe makes Christmas Eve special are the traditions that we carry from our ancestors. There are these little rituals that we wait and long for the whole year.


There's a little bit of hay on my nativity scene. That's because it's a Polish tradition to remember where Jesus was born, but we usually will put it under the tablecloth.


The essence of Christmas is Baby Jesus being born therefore as a tradition we start the evening by reading the Bible. The passage is from the Gospel of Luke that talks about the birth of Christ.



As a child, we would alternate among the siblings and struggle to pronounce the difficult words.


We also have these Christmas wafers. Tradition says you share it with the ones around the table to express your wishes, forgiveness, peace and love.



The next tradition is to leave one empty spot at the table for a stranger to be accepted like Baby Jesus wasn't.



As Christmas gift a few years ago, I received this seasonal appropriate tableware that make the set up for the table really festive.


Finally, there's the special food that we serve on Christmas Eve and we remember it so well because it touches our senses. Obviously, the smell and taste but I'll insist on sight as well. The problem I have with it the Polish Christmas food is not looking beautiful, though it tastes very good.


It should be twelve dishes as the Apostles. I'm sharing the most important ones for me.


In my family the meal starts with a beet soup with stuffed dumplings.



It's cooked with many vegetables but eaten as clear liquid.



I'm still learning how to assembly the dumplings as good as my grandmother would. The filling is made with cooked sauerkraut, dried mushrooms and a little bit of carrots.


The most popular dish for Polish Christmas are pierogi. These are bigger dumplings with filling, either sauerkraut or potatoes and cheese.



Cooking is the test for the maker of them. If they are not closed correctly, they'll open up while boiling. They may not be beautiful yet even though I have been practicing for a few years, but they don't open up anymore!


There's no meat on this day so only fish, usually different types.



I will make cod my mother's way, first dipped in flour and then in egg and then fried. Polish people really like carp but I'll replace it with salmon.


A special drink for Christmas Eve is compote made of dried fruit, with its deep brown color from the plums.


As for the desert it's normally a sweet barley with poppy seeds, nuts and raisins. I recall its warmth in the middle of the night after the midnight Mass.


This is how my food looks like:


My favorite pierogi are stuffed with potatoes, farmer cheese and onions.



The fish is served with a sauerkraut salad.


I imagine everyone likes Christmas for their own traditions and foods. That's what makes it unique. Whatever you do... enjoy! Be grateful for Baby Jesus being born for us.


Merry Christmas Beautiful!

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