| Visiting homes with the wishes of a happy holiday season is a valued tradition in Poland as elsewhere. The difference in Poland is that it is primarily for practiced after Christmas Day as part of the Three Kings celebrations. Especially popular in rural areas, kolendnicy or carolers dressed in traditional attire and other costumes go from house to house with a big star and sing Polish carols. In return for the entertainment and good wishes, accepted by homeowners as omens of abundance and good luck, hosts bestow small alms and, often even better, some tasty holiday libation and treats. Costumed carolers dress as goblins to scare the host as well as ward off evil spirits from the home in the new year. Other characteristic figures of carol singing groups were: animals, like a horned beast , goat , bear , horse , rooster , stork and the shepherds , the Magi , grandfather, babas, a Jew, death , devil , gypsy, soldier, policeman, chimney sweeps, musicians. Some even travel with a manager set and perhaps puppets allowing them to perform the herody or nativity play live. Often, in addition to songs, the group played pranks and might recite funny rhymes. Most march with a gwiaździchem or action star made of colored, sparkling paper that is attached to a shaft yet can still spin. The whole spectacle is accompanied by a general atmosphere of gaiety. Rounds of kolędniczy are an awaited event, especially since the omission of your house was considered a bad omen. Learn more about Polish caroling here.
Catch the Kolednicy spirit and top it off with Polish Happy Hour
This year we are combining two of our favorite things to spread some Christmas cheer—and we hope you will join us! On Thursday, December 12 Christmas Caroling and Polish Happy Hour, Boardman Krakowiaki is leading a caroling group to the Greenbrier senior facilities on South Avenue from starting at 5-7 PM. We will be singing in Polish and English with song sheets provided. This has become an annual tradition for both the participants and the residents—many of whom are of Slavic heritage and are thrilled to get this visit that is a blast from the past. Afterward we will proceed to Vintage Estates—accordion and all—to enjoy a holiday Polish Happy Hour! It is the season for giving…why not chose this opportunity to join with your Polish friends to give of your time to the community.
Check out our holiday spirit at Millcreek Park
Polish Youngstown was one of 45 non-for-profit organizations that decorated a tree at the Davis Center in Mill Creek Metroparks for the Winter Celebration 2013 being held throughout the month of December. Led by Community Outreach Coordinator Marianne Poprik, volunteers who decorated the tree placed in it a garland bearing the phrase, "It's Imperative to Know Your Heritage" throughout the tree. The phrase was taken from the "Polish Youngstown Polka" written especially for the group. Pictures of ancestral family members were sent in by team members and friends of PolishYoungstown and were used as decorations on the tree. Straw ornaments from Poland also adorn the tree. The Davis Center will have an array of lights, flowers, trees, entertainment and refreshments to enjoy while viewing the trees on Sunday evenings in December from 5 -7 PM. Visitors can also view the trees during regular daytime hours from 10 AM – 5 PM Tuesday through Saturday. Stop by and share some holiday
Gift ideas to add some Polish to your presents
Every year right before Christmas my phone starts ringing from folks looking for a little something to give to their Polish grandpa or uncle. We are thrilled to provide! Stuff the stocking with felt pierogi or chocolate pierogi. Dress your baby in a tiny Stan the Pieróg onsie! Send your brother in San Diego a “Polish Pride, Polish Youngstown” t-shirt. And your aunt would love a copy of the Black Madonna CD and prayer card! We’ve got this and much more! Email or (330) 333-9724 to let us know how we can help! And don’t forget to shop with some of our favorite vendors online: Europeanfolkart.com and the Polish Art Center .
Your Polish Tastes by Barbara Rolek
Preparations begin in advance for Christmas Eve dinner
In Poland and other countries that celebrate Advent no just as a time to do your Christmas To Do list, but as a celebration in its own right, preparations for Christmas are postponed and begin early on Christmas Eve. Years ago, it was traditional for country families to hurry to the forest to cut boughs of evergreen to be tucked behind holy pictures in the home or above the entryway. Everyone vied to be the first to cut the top off a fir tree to be hung from a beam in the home’s ceiling. The girls of the family decorated the boughs with red apples, nuts and ornaments made of paper and bread. The decorations stayed up until Jan. 6, the Feast of the Three Kings or even February 2 Candlemas. However, there are several items that were made in advance that helped build the anticipation for the big night. Krupnik or honeyed vodka is the only alcoholic beverage served at the solemn wigilia or Christmas Eve dinner. Served hot or cold it is a favorite among Poles and warms the body from the inside out. It is a delicious addition to your meal or a hospitality gift if visiting others so why not make your own with this simple recipe.
Another standard better homemade than store bought is Polish herrings in oil or sledz w oleju. Usually the first item served, herring is one of Poland's favorite appetizers. Salt herring, required for this recipe, are generally available from the barrel at Polish, Jewish and other ethnic delis. If you can't find them, Nordic House is a good online source. Raw herring are heavily salted to prevent spoilage, so you will need to soak them to get rid of the saltiness. This recipe is from chef Marek Widomski, founder and director of the Culinary Institute in Cracow, Poland. Enjoy!
News from Poland
Poland calls on Ukraine to make 'brave' pro-EU decision
Poland's Radoslaw Sikorski joined other foreign ministers in Kiev attending an OSCE meeting last week urging the Ukrainian government to reconsider signing trade deals with the EU. At this historic moment for Ukraine, after all these talks, I believe that an agreement of the main political forces [in this country] is necessary that goes beyond the current government, so as to make a European choice for Ukraine, and to enact reform,” he said at a press conference at the Polish Embassy last week. “This requires great responsibility, courage and it entails the risk of introducing reforms which may not necessarily be popular.” he said. Events in Ukraine has Poland attempting to build a new plan of action on the as far as neighborly relations are concerned. Read more about this topical story here and the others news in the most recent edition of Polish Media Watch.
Tuesday, December 10 Deadline to order Wigilia To Go... Thursday, December 12 Christmas Caroling and Polish Happy Hour, Boardman... Sunday, December 15 4 PM Lira Folk Ensemble Carnegie Music Hall, Pittsburgh co-presented by the Polish Cultural Council
Aundréa and Your PolishYoungstown Team