Polish Christmas Eve

Context/Background: The Informant is of Polish descent and her grandparents and mother strongly identify with the Polish culture. Growing up, her grandfather orchestrated a celebration for their family which was centered around Christmas Eve and engaging in the tradition of sharing a “piece of you,” to show love and appreciation while celebrating largely at night with much festivity.


“Like… in Poland, we celebrate on Christmas Eve and you go to a midnight mass, but when you’re having dinner. you like… exchange… you like have your own wafer. My grandpa’s the one that orchestrates our thing, but you walk up to everyone in your family and you tear off a piece of their wafer and tear off a piece of you and it’s like showing them you love them ’cause it’s like… you’re giving something to them. We do that every Christmas Eve. And in Polish tradition, you stay up really late on Christmas Eve and eat a ton of food.”

Introduction: The Informant’s Family

Analysis/Interpretation: I’ve previously heard about some experiences from families that stat up until midnight (Christmas Eve, transitioning to Christmas Day) and celebrate in the middle of the night, opening presents and what not. This is a little different in the aspect of the wafer tradition. I find that custom to be very sweet and reaffirming in order to build onto your relationship with your family. I also think that because the Grandparents organize it, there’s something additionally special that’s added because there’s a sense of them passing on to the following generations and organization for them. I can personally understand this in some regard because on my mother’s side of the family, it’s always her older relatives that organize the events, particularly the family reunion they hold.