Today, let’s chat about Christmas time, what I adapted from Living in UK, how I spend my Christmas here now. I was asked by Wayfair, my favorite home decor website, to share with you some of my traditions. Many of you know, that I am not born in UK. I have been living here now many years and I can proudly say, I treat UK as my home. When I arrived here, I couldn’t speak English. I could hardly introduce myself and say few words, and that where it ended. I remember how hard was to start, to find a job was one thing and to adapt myself in UK was another. I was living in flat were both me and my ex-boyfriend was Polish and so our flatmate. Our friends were Polish too, and I desperately wanted to learn English.
I didn’t want to just stick to Polish people, I wanted to learn the culture and learn more about England. Besides, I barely could speak the language, I tried my best. I was eager to try new foods, new drinks as well as traditions and habits. I tried to speak to as many English speaking people as I could. I was fearless then. I found a job in a restaurant and I was learning from the beginning. I met fantastic people along the journey and some really patently helped me when I was pronouncing something incorrectly. Like saying ‘Toad’ instead of thought or many there that made people laugh. ( I still do that though 😉
I am happy when someones tell me they read my blog the way they would listen to me, with my accent. I am proud I am Polish and never been ashamed of my country or accent. I never tried to hide or learn to get rid of it. I doubt, I will be able ever anyway. I try to adapt to UK by keeping my own roots and my own country traditions, that one day I will be able to pass to my children.
White Christmas tree, find one in Wayfair
When it comes to traditions, the first thing that comes to mind is Christmas of course. Christmas is a time when we all remember this as happy times from our childhoods. I have loads of happy memories, and often I miss that time when I could spend Christmas at home. It’s different when you sat at the table with your family, and when you sat to the meal in another country, not having them around. I personally got used to it now and I am happy to create my own new memories. Some people are not and they still every year fly home, being ripped off by airlines with their 3 x times prices than normal. I wanted to adapt and I did, including the traditions.
So, let me just chat about our traditions during Christmas. Our Christmas officially starts 6th of December when Santa Claus visits homes, schools and hospitals to hands present to children. This is when most Polish people will start decorating their Christmas tree as any earlier is ‘’too early’’. Polish people really try to stick to their own traditions and if they see any signs of Christmas before December, you most likely will hear their moans as we are not fans of commercializing such a traditions.
On the 22/23 of December is the big Christmas cleaning. At least at my home. I remember my mum made me clean up my entire room including every single corner, and help her out with windows and cleaning cupboards. My mum believes that if you start Christmas messy then your whole year will be messy. ( I guess I slept that tradition last year 😉
Around 6pm we would go to church for Pasterka and the first peon who knocks on your door on NYE but be a man, as women brings bad luck to the house 🙂
Rose gold set of cutlery, find one on Wayfair website
On the 24th is Christmas Eve and the day is usually rushed wit last Christmas shopping and my mum already seen in the kitchen since 6am cooking 12 dishes. Yes, you hear me right, 12 dishes. These are to particularly 12 main courses, but within these contains bread, and side dishes. Every year I cook:
- Dumplings with sauerkraut and mushrooms. This is must have a dish on every table in Poland. I usually will have 1/2 and then freeze rest to have for the rest of the year.
- Mini dumplings called uszka. It’s a dish we add to beetroot soup and it has the same filling as the large dumplings above.
- Beetroot soup. It’s my favourite. It’s the dish we start with, served with mini dumplings and my mum always hide a coin in one of them. Who finds the coin, will be the richest for the year.
- Greek fish. I know, you pebbly scratching your head how greek fish but honestly I don’t think I now that. I just know this dish under this name and I am actually clueless if this is a traditional greek dish too? Anyway, it’s fried fish in breadcrumbs with vegetables and smooth juice and it’s literally delicious.
- Fried fish pieces. Same as above, but these are crispy fried fish with breadcrumbs that can resemble traditional English fish in batter.
- Pancakes. Another of my favourites. Pancakes with sourkrout and mushrooms ( yep, same filing as the dumplings) and friend in breadcrumbs it’s of one my favourite and I love to snack on these few days after Christmas with sipping on hot beetroot soup. ( best hangover cure by the way!)
- Bigos. Bigos, it’s a traditional polish dish we cook all year round, not just for Christmas. Cooked for at least 3/4 hours and the more recooked over next few days, the better it tastes!
- Kutia. my grandma always was making kutia, its traditional dish with walnuts, raisins, poppy seeds and honey. I never actually made kutia myself and usually buy ready for someone.
- Carp. Carp it’s a must-have on every table and the gross tradition is to bring alive home, keep in your bathroom for 3 days and the father would kill it, and mum prepare it. We, unfortunately, had this for many years, but then people would slowly stop the tradition and buy a frozen one. We don’t practise this anymore. Some people still do that, but you won’t find alive carp in many homes now as same as buying soya milk to reduce producing cow milk, people try to be more aware.
- Herring fillets with cream. This was my dad favourite dish, and besides that no one ever likes it, I always bring that to my table. It’s like bringing part of my dad to Christmas and I always have memories of him when I eat them.
- Gingerbread and Pops seed cakes. It’s more of a desserts f course but it’s something we count in as a dish as this is the last courses and must have for every home in Poland.
- 12. Bread. As this is the only sort of side dish we still count bread in as our 12th dish to finish with many described above.
There is as you can see loads of cooking and it takes 2 days to prepare all these. I usually try to buy some part and cook part of it.
Also, another of our traditions is that we open presents on the 24th after the meal rather on Christmas morning. We would have to wait till everyone finishes their meal, so imagine how slow eating dad would drive us mad! My mum would tell us to go and fins shooting star while she would get the presents from being hidden in wardrobe and put them under Christmas tree as anything that landed there before that would have been opened ages ago. We actually developed a skill of opening presents without being noticed and place them back untouched. Since my mum figures it out she started to hide them before Christmas Eve.
Christmas Day is a day where we can sleep longer, in pyjamas watching TV and eating the leftovers from Christmas Eve. Usually in the evening, the family will come over for a visit and for adults it meant a vodka on the table. Boxing Day would be same as Christmas Day in Poland.
I usually try to stick to my polish traditions every year ( minus the church) as this is something that keeps me close to my family and something I don’t want to ever forget.