The Wigilia, or Christmas Eve Vigil, is the most important holiday for people of Polish heritage. My informant, who is of Polish descent, says the Wiglilia is a celebration that includes many customs. One custom they uphold in her family, is the Wigilia dinner. This dinner is full of traditional Polish dishes, one such dish is a dessert called Kutia or Kucja.
Kutia or Kucja, is a dessert of cooked wheat pudding, flavored with honey, poppy seeds, and nuts. She first experienced this dish when her cousin Mehow was visiting from Poland during Christmas time.
Her family is originally from a rural town in Poland, where they were once peasants. Her cousin told her family that Kucja was a delicacy for peasants on the farms. Honey and poppyseeds were expensive and a specialty to be savored on Wigilia. Wheat and grains which remain a staple of Poland, were the fruits of their hard labor. This is why the dish has a place on the Wigilia table and is especially special to those of peasant heritage.
My informant says the dessert is sweet, but really grainy, not her favorite…
Food is essential to life, not only because our bodies need nutrients, but in the case of farmers, it is their source of an income and survival. The meal in this case, is a very special time to be thankful for what the land has provided and to indulge in its offerings. Kucja is a symbol of hard work and enjoyment at the most honored time of year.