The 12 Dishes of Polish Christmas

Christmas decorations of the Christmas market

Christmas Eve dinner, or Wigilia, is the most important celebration of the year for families throughout Poland. As well as close family, it is customary to set an extra plate and seat for an unexpected guest! Meat is not allowed (so for all you vegetarians, Poland is the perfect place to celebrate), and the celebration can last many hours, mostly due to the 12 different dishes to munch through.

Whilst the specific dishes differ by religions, regions or traditions, the following is a short guide to the popular choices.

  1. Hot Mulled Wine on Christmas MarketsRed Borscht – A traditional soup made from beetroot and a sour soup base.
  2. Mushroom Soup – The second course is more soup, this time made from dried forest mushrooms,  and often served with thin noodles .
  3. Christmas Eve Carp – Christmas Eve carp is often accompanied by hot sauerkraut with dried mushrooms, a vegetable salad or potatoes.
  4. Carp Jewish Style – Pieces of fish are cooked slowly in a fish stock. It is served in a natural jelly with onion, almonds, raisins and soft bread.
  5. Herrings – The most common version of this dish is to serve in oil with sour apples, chopped onions and root vegetables
  6. Pierogi – Dumplings stuffed with cabbage or sauerkraut and dried forest mushrooms.
  7. Braised Souerkraut – When life gives you cabbages – slice, ferment, and make sauerkraut from them.
  8. Gołąbki – These cabbage rolls are usually stuffed with meat, however for Wigilia the stuffing is vegetarian with cereals such as buckwheat, pearl barley or rice.
  9. Christmas Tree in the Old TownKutia – It is a mixture of cooked, unprocessed wheat grains, cooked poppy seeds, honey, dried or candied fruits soaked in a small amount of port or red wine and various nuts.
  10. Old Polish Piernik – This gingerbread is usually prepared weeks in advance, then baked a few days before Wigilia, then served with powidła (plum preserve). Children often bake smaller cookies for tree decorations.
  11. Dried Fruit Compote – It is made from cooked dried and smoked fruits, typically plums, apples, pears, raisins and apricots. It’s a tactical dish as it’s purpose is to speed up digestion.
  12. Poppy Seed Cake – If you still have room after all of that, fill the void with delicious poppy seed cake topped with poppy seed cream.

So there you have it – the 12 dishes of Polish Christmas. You will just need just a little time to prepare them and lots of time to enjoy them.

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