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Christmas Eve in Poland

Many people in Poland celebrate Christmas Eve (Wigilia) on December 24. It precedes Christmas Day, December 25, which is a national public holiday to commemorate Jesus Christ’s birth.

Is Christmas Eve a Public Holiday?

Christmas Eve is not a public holiday. Businesses have normal opening hours.

A traditional Polish Christmas Eve meal with white wafer on top of hay.

©iStockphoto.com/TeresaKasprzycka

What Do People Do?

Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and Boxing Day (or St Stephen’s Day) are important days that are celebrated in many Polish homes. Christmas preparations begin days before December 25. Houses and apartments are cleaned and adorned with decorations, including a Christmas tree. Traditionally, Christmas trees are decorated with candles or lights, ornaments made of glass or eggshells, and wrapped treats on December 24.

Special dinners consisting of traditional Polish dishes are prepared and eaten on Christmas Eve. Dishes include beetroot soup (barszcz), dumplings stuffed with mushrooms (uszka), a cabbage dish, as well as cakes, fruit, and pastries. It is not unusual for some hosts to prepare for an extra seat for an unexpected guest. It is also customary to break and give the Christmas wafer (oplatek), which is made of flour and water, to guests. Many people attend a special church mass at midnight between December 24 and 25.

Public Life

Christmas Eve is not an official public holiday but it is a busy time of the year for many commercial shops and businesses. It is also a busy on the road and for many transport services as many people travel home to be with their families for Christmas.

Background

Many Christians in Poland and around the world start celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ on Christmas Eve. It is also known as the Vigil of Christmas and is perceived as the culmination of the Advent season. Christmas Eve is the day before Christmas Day and is associated with celebrating Jesus Christ’s birth, although his actual birth date has been disputed among many scholars.

Symbols

There are a number of traditional superstitious beliefs about the Christmas period. For example, it is believed that sheaves of wheat and rye, hay or straw under tables will bring good crops or fortune. This practice is also a reminder of the modest environment in which Jesus was born in. It is also said that animals could talk at a certain moment during Christmas Eve.

About Christmas Eve in other countries

Read more about Christmas Eve.

Christmas Eve Observances

YearWeekdayDateNameHoliday Type
2015ThuDec 24Christmas EveObservance
2016SatDec 24Christmas EveObservance
2017SunDec 24Christmas EveObservance
2018MonDec 24Christmas EveObservance
2019TueDec 24Christmas EveObservance
2020ThuDec 24Christmas EveObservance
2021FriDec 24Christmas EveObservance
2022SatDec 24Christmas EveObservance
2023SunDec 24Christmas EveObservance
2024TueDec 24Christmas EveObservance
2025WedDec 24Christmas EveObservance

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