I spent Christmas Eve and Christmas Day in Wągrowiec, Poland with my extended host family. In Poland, the most important day of Christmas is Christmas Eve (Wigilia).
There are so many special traditions for Christmas in Poland. Here are some of my favorites!
Everybody is given a large wafer (similar in texture and taste to communion wafers given at church, though much larger). You go to each person at the party and take a piece of their wafer, and they take a piece of your wafer. You then tell them what you appreciate about them, and share good wishes for the upcoming year. I loved this tradition! It really helps to spread love, which is what the holidays are all about! It was very interesting to try to give people nice messages with my limited Polish skills, but I tried my best! Opłatek is a very popular tradition in Poland, and throughout my holiday season here, I did it four times!
At the Wigilia dinner, a place at the table is set and left empty in case an unexpected guest arrives.
The Presents are opened on Christmas Eve, rather than Christmas day.
No meat is eaten on Christmas Eve. We ate fish, pierogi, soups, potatoes, and cakes!
I am so lucky to have such a great host family! Everyone was so generous and welcoming towards me, and it really helped me to have a wonderful time.
The night after we had to say goodbye to Blake, it was time to go to the Austrian Alps and learn how to ski.
It’s hard for me to put into words how amazing my week in the Saalbach region of the Alps was. I got to learn how to ski for the first time in the most beautiful place in the world to do so, and I actually got pretty good! Everything about the trip was perfect for me, our instructors were super fun and helpful, I got to spend so many wonderful hours with my great friends, the food was delicious, and it was fun to hear so many different languages spoken on the slopes.
However, the best part for me was skiing and being able to see such beautiful landscapes, and breathe such fresh air. I’ll never forget the beautiful feeling of freedom I felt, when my instructor let me and my friend Kai go ahead for the first time, and I tore down the hill.
I continue to love my time in Poland! I am learning so much and experiencing so many amazing things!
Here’s to more adventures!