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Christmas customs in Poland
Christmas is the most celebrated and the most important holiday in Poland.
Unlike in other Christian countries Christmas Eve seems to be the crux of Christmas.
Preparations for Christmas start with the Advent. It is especially important for religious Catholics. The week before Christmas is very hectic, full of bustle. Every house or apartment needs extra cleaning and sometimes redecoration. One must buy Christmas presents, food for the Christmas meals and a Christmas tree (usually a fir tree) that is lavishly decorated and placed in a prominent place in the living room.
Christmas Eve (and Christmas in general) is an occasion for family reunions and everyone tries to spend the evening with their family. Traditionally the Christmas Eve feast starts when the first star appears in the sky. Everybody gathers together and wish one another breaking with everyone a special wafer. After the wishes the feast starts. It is said that by tradition it should consist of twelve meals. It might seem too much but because it is a fasting day all are rather hungry. No meat is consumed, rather fish, pasta, sauerkraut, mushrooms, beans etc.
Usually after the meals are finished it is time for Christmas gifts.
At midnight many people go to a special Mass in Catholic churches called Pasterka (Shepard's Mass).
The first day of Christmas is just celebrating in the family circle.
The second day of Christmas is for visiting friends and relatives.