Wigilia is the traditional Christmas Eve vigil supper in Poland, held on December 24. The word "Wigilia" derives from the Latin verb vigilare, "to watch", and literally means 'eve'. The feasting traditionally begins once the First Star has been sighted in the heavens at dusk (around 4-5p.m.) although we started slightly later than this as I had to drive over to Durham after finishing work.
A bundle of hay is placed under the tablecloth to symbolise the fact that Jesus was born in a manger. As a game, pieces of straw are drawn out from under the tablecloth to tell your fortune for the upcoming year, eg growing strongly, branching out, fruitful (though my mother is the best at turning her piece round to "help" predict her fortune!
Another tradition is to leave one extra place-setting for an "unexpected guest". This is to celebrate the tradition of hospitality and inclusion. The empty seat is left open just in case a traveler, family member, or a friend knocks on the door, so there would be a place for them to join in the celebrations..........which our neighbours have learnt and profited from over the years!
|Barszcz with uszka|
|The awesome salmon|
The number of country courses is traditionally established to be twelve (symbolic of the number of months in the year as well as to celebrate the twelve disciples) in a similar manner to the British tradition of eating 12 mince pies over the festive season, so if we've not yet got to twelve, we make it up with dried fruit, nuts and chocolates!!