09 Jan

Christmas. Location: Poland, Christmas Day

Posted by Jenna, Under Holiday, Poland

After staying up very late reading Fail blog and Photoshop disasters, That Husband and I didn’t wake up until 12:30 on Christmas day. What kind of Christmas spirit is that? It did help me with breakfast a little bit, since breakfast always felt a little more like lunch. In Poland, they eat sandwiches for breakfast. No eggs, bacon, milk, or cereal to be found. I really liked the slices that looked like pepperoni (but it wasn’t like American pepperoni) and the sausage in the middle.

I was afraid of the albino sausage, so I stuck to what was safe. The red sausage on the right was delicious, it had a kind of a sweetness to it.

That Husband is always complaining about how he misses hearty Polish bread, so he was in heaven for those three days. I liked it best toasted, but that’s no surprise since I like everything toasted.

I’m sorry to bring you right back to more food pictures once again, but we ate breakfast at 1:00 and dinner at 3:00 so there wasn’t much to do besides shower in between.

Dinner consisted of the fish from the previous night, served cold this time.

And Polish sushi! It was actually quite good.

Up until this point I had really been missing American food, so when I looked down at my plate and discovered this lump of peas, carrots, and potatoes I said “I know you! You like to come along at picnics and your name is Potato Salad. Thanks for being in Poland with me American food look-alike.”

Finally a dish with cream cheese! But I have a hard time with smoked salmon (which I’m pretty sure this was) so I didn’t eat very much of it. This time I got smart and asked for a glass of water as the meal started. I don’t think they were offended (especially since That Husband had a glass as well), but the lack of beverages at the table was definitely a reminder that I wasn’t in Kansas anymore.

After dinner and dessert That Husband and I headed over to the Catholic church, located 2 houses away from my in-laws house, to see the nativity before mass started. It was a heart warming display of community love, and That FIL told me they add a new element each year. Which might explain…

the giant hamster and cute little puppy?

We left the church just as mass was starting and attempted to slide our way down to the cemetery. I’ve never seen such icy roads in my life!

The cemetery was breathtaking. Filled with hundreds of red and green lanterns for Christmas. That Husband told me there is one day during the year when the cemetery looks more beautiful than this, and that is on the Day of the Dead. Everyone goes to the cemetery that day and when night falls there are thousands of candles as far as the eye can see. That Husband lives on the other side of the tree line in this photo, and he told me that as a boy he loved Day of the Dead because he would look out his window and it would look like the cemetery was on fire.

I think this is proof enough that the Poles visit the cemetery a lot more than we do.

On our way back home we saw these girls sliding around on the ice. I wanted to be cool like them, so I decided to give a try.

Haha, I guess I am not quite as cool as they are.

Even though we had a lovely dinner with That Husband’s family, up until this point I still didn’t really feel like it was Christmas day. I missed the excitement of waking up that morning to see what was under the tree, the cousins, the loud laughter from my grandpa, all of those things I’ve experienced 22 Christmases before.

Then, when we got back inside the house and warmed up a little bit, we went upstairs and talked about our beliefs by the light of the Christmas tree with That Husband’s family. We told them about the temple, why we visit, and what it’s like. We love our faith and believe it to be the truth, so having the chance to open up to his family and speak about those sacred and special things was the best gift that Christmas brought this year.

I think, after that, I’ve decided that this might have been the best Christmas after all.

13 Comments


  1. One thing I never knew about Poland was the amount of fish eaten there. I really dislike almost everything that comes from the sea, and I’m Polish. I much prefer city chicken, stuffed cabbage rolls, and perogies.

    It’s so wonderful that you go to share your faith with your family. I did as well on Christmas day, but it didn’t go over well AT ALL and in fact it got me near tears. One of the reasons I want TH to share why he converted is, quite honestly, I just have a hard time in believing in things like a Book of Mormon (mostly because it the Bible takes us from the beginning of creation to the end). So I’d love to hear his conversion story because I think it would help explain things for me.

    Ryan and I went to light a candle in a green lantern at the Catholic cemetery for his grandma a few months back. It was lovely, if not sad, I can’t wait to meet her in heaven some day. Love that picture.

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  2. That was beautifully written Jenna and made my heart happy :).

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  3. I love the idea of the Day of the Dead. I wish was had that here.

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  4. I love photoshop disasters (though it’s been reaching a bit as of late). I check that and cake wrecks all the thim.

    The church nativitiy is the spitting image (only a lot bigger) of the one my grandmother had when I was little. Well aside from the hamster and dog. Mary and Joseph look the exact same.

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  5. Wow! That is some pretty intense food. I would personally miss my veggies, for that’s just what I’m like.

    That’s neat that they light up their cemeteries for the Day of the Dead. What day of the year is that?

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  6. Poland is not made for vegetarians! Those sausages are so appetizing though.
    And the nativity thing, I wonder if it explains the small ones, if they took on that tradition of adding a character each year and that’s how you end up with such odd pieces… because they base themselves on the big ones.
    You definitely had a wintery Christmas, lucky you. Sliding is fun but it’s good to have some sort of padding just in case… I’m glad you got to not only discover the local traditions, but also to share things with them and that they are open to it.

    @Bean: the day of the dead is on November 1st. (that’s why there is haloween the night before). Well there is All Souls Day and then then the day of the dead in some countries. France is November 1st. I know because that’s the day of the year when we always go visit our deceased relatives and it also happens to be my grandmother’s birthday (she had to go to cemetaries every year for her birthday, not fun as a child).

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  7. Bean-The day of the dead is celebrated the day after Halloween. I think it’s also sometimes called All Saints Day?

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  8. Yes, November 1st is All Saints Day, and in the Catholic tradition, November 2nd is All Souls’ Day. This is why Halloween (or “All Hallows Eve”) is when it is… it used to just be the vigil for the night before All Saints Day, and Halloween costumes used to be costumes of the saints!

    My mom always wishes everyone “happy feast day” on November 1st, because it’s sort of a bonus feast day for all the patron saints.

    I love the tradition of Day of the Dead (I’m more familiar with the Mexican customs, though). In Mexican Catholic churches, parishioners decorate the altar with pictures and mementos of loved ones who have died, and many people go light candles or lanterns at cemeteries on the Day of the Dead.

    So many places have these traditions to think of/pray for/ remember deceased friends and family… why is the predominant custom in the US to just avoid that, I wonder? I think it’s cool that they light lanterns in cemeteries on Christmas in Poland, too… a nice way to think of the whole family on the holiday.

    Wow. I got pretty excited about this post, apparently. Thanks for the fun Poland recap!

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  9. CaitStClair says:

    Halloween actually has a long tradition that reaches back before the Catholic/Christian Church.

    From the Halloween wiki: “Halloween has origins in the ancient Celtic festival known as Samhain. The festival of Samhain is a celebration of the end of the harvest season in Brythonic and Gaelic culture, and is sometimes regarded as the “Celtic New Year”. Costumes and masks were also worn at the festivals in an attempt to copy the evil spirits or placate them.
    It was a day of religious festivities in various northern European Pagan traditions until Popes Gregory III and Gregory IV moved the old Christian feast of All Saints’ Day from May 13 (which had itself been the date of a pagan holiday, the Feast of the Lemures) to November 1.”

    What I love is that however it originated, we all have our own reasons for celebrating it today. :-)

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  10. Krzysztof says:

    Jenna, what you call Polish sushi has the name terrine and is an international dish – see: http://www.fooddownunder.com/cgi-bin/search.cgi?q=terrines

    I love your recaps. Thanks.

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  11. For some crazy reason, that Giant Nativity Hamster made my day! :)

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  12. I think Polish Nativities pretty much sound like the coolest ever! Who doesn’t add a giant hamster to their nativity? Next year I want to add a real hamster to my nativity. I am gong to make a house for my new hamster and it can live with the sheep and baby Jesus.

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  13. Oh my gosh! We stayed up late on Christmas Eve looking at the Fail blog, too!!!! How funny that we’d be doing the same thing almost a world, and definitely an few time zones, away. Props to you for sharing that bit of comedy with us in the first place. Yes, we are addicted.

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      I'm a farm-raised almost-crunchy stroller-pushing picture-taking lifestyle-blog-writing gastronomy-obsessed divine-seeking thrift-store-combing cheese-inhaling pavement-pounding laughter-sprinkling lover of individuality and taking chances.
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