Holiday time is a time of year that most of us recognized our heritage and our old family traditions. Whether that be putting tinsel on the tree with dad, Lighting the menorah with your grandmother or just having a quiet evening at home and enjoying the holiday time off. For some of us our different backgrounds make for different traditions that we do for the holidays. My family and I celebrate Wigilijna (Va-gil-lia), Which in Polish means “Dinner” or “Large Supper”. This meal happens on Christmas Eve and goes on the entire day and extends until midnight mass. Dinner begins with the breaking of oplatek which is a Christmas wafer, this is to symbolize the bread that we eat every day in our day to day common life and being thankful the food and things we have. We then go around the table and each person breaks of a piece of another family members wafer, and at the same time we then wish them good fortune for the upcoming year.
Another Polish Christmas tradition is the drawing of hay. Before dinner everyone gets a lock of hay above their plate to remember the meaning of Christmas. Then after dinner, all the children and adults gather around to draw straws. Colored pieces of hay are put into a bag so that you cannot see what you are pull out each color has a different meaning and for tells the fortune that you are going to have for the upcoming year. There is green for wealth and prosperity, black which is bad luck almost the same tradition as receiving a lump of coal on Christmas. There is also blue which means great happiness, and red for you will find love or enhance the relationships you have whether that be with a spouse, mother, father, or friend.
The German tradition of putting a pickle on the tree is not something a lot of people have heard of and no one can really say where the tradition had started. Some people say it was due to the lack of money in a household that they had to put pickles on the tree because they look the most like glass ornaments and other people just say it is an old German tradition that has been passed down from family member to family member. The tradition goes like this Christmas morning the parents get up early to take the Christmas pickle ornament and hide it in the Christ mas tree. The first child to find the Christmas pickle will receive an extra present from St. Nicolas, and the first adult to find the Christmas pickle will receive good fortune in the upcoming year. So keep your eye peeled for the mystery of the Christmas pickle.
In the Ukraine they have a Christmas tradition that involves a spider; people of the Ukraine believe that if you find a spider on a web on Christmas morning that you will have good luck for the upcoming year. This isn’t the only tradition where you see a little spookiness. In some Italian households they don’t believe in Santa Clause and they tell their children that a woman on a broom comes and delivers the presents because she doesn’t want people to get the wrong idea about her.
These are just some of Christmas traditions that many probably have never heard of. Some of them crazy and some of them sweet all in all this time of year is what you make it. It is a time of year to reflect on the past year and see things that you will do different or keep the same and to be truly thankful for the friends and family that you have around you, and all the things that you did achieve in the past year. So happy holidays everyone.