Monday, November 30, 2015

Polish Christmas or Wigilia

photo credit: Christmas Bokeh via photopin (license)
Alright! Get ready for some Christmas!! I have been listening to Christmas music for the past month already. Smalls rolls her eyes every time I start to play it. I've also put up my tree the week of Halloween. I know it was kind of early but change is hard for us and I wanted to go ahead and get those "nasty" feelings of change out of the way so we could enjoy some of Christmas!

For the past couple of months, I've started gathering articles and resources on Christmas in Poland. I hope you find these helpful for your family.

One question that I get asked (frequently), is "how do we celebrate Christmas in our family?". In our family, we don't do the traditional American Santa with our daughter. Smalls comes from a very traumatic background. I don't want to get into the whole debate of "lying to your children about a man in the red suit vs. it's technically not lying because we are only playing a game" because each family has the choice to make their own decisions about their own family. We are upfront with Smalls about everything (dentist/doctor visits, places we go, etc...) and we don't sugar coat anything. Smalls was lied to about her past and trusting us is a very sensitive issue. We do not want to jeopardize the trust that we have gained with her over something that happens once a year.

When Smalls joined our family two years ago, she knew nothing about Santa Claus, which is kind of odd because Poland has Santa traditions like the U.S. It wasn't a problem for us to tell her that Santa wasn't real. We told her that we will play a game that a man in a red suit will come and bring presents on Christmas Eve night. We over emphasized that it is just a game and for pretend. Smalls knows that the presents come from family. I will wrap most of her presents and then leave out the "big" present on Christmas Eve night. In addition to "Santa" bringing presents to her, we give Smalls the chance to play Santa for others. We pick a child (who may not get gifts for Christmas) from our church's angel tree. Smalls gets to pick out their toys, clothes, etc... that they need and requested. We also donate canned goods and coats for the various charities in our city. We want Smalls to learn that it is better to give than to receive and that playing Santa is fun!

Starting on December 1st, we go through this advent calendar every day until Christmas. We want Smalls to know the real meaning of Christmas and for us that is the birth of Jesus. In addition to the advent calendar we like to teach Smalls about Saint Nicholas and where the idea of Santa originated from. We check out books and movies from the library about Saint Nicholas. We are able to use some of our homeschooling time to teach Smalls about the origins of the Christmas Holiday.

Because Smalls is from Poland, we try to incorporate some Polish traditions as much as we can without violating our beliefs. I try to cook traditional Christmas foods and play Christmas carols in Polish

Overall we try to keep the holidays simple. We will visit our families, take off from homeschool, and look at Christmas lights. We want Smalls to experience the fullness of Christmas without triggering those traumatic memories. If we are visiting a friend or family member's house, I will bring a bag with calming sensory items in case Smalls gets over stimulated or is having a hard time.

photo credit: Merry Christmas #flickr12days via photopin (license)

Here are some links to Christmas in Poland:

Christmas in Poland:
This is too cool! You must check this one out: Interactive guide to a Polish Christmas

Christmas Eve Traditions 

http://hitchhikershandbook.com/2013/12/16/18-facts-christmas-traditions-in-poland/

http://goeasteurope.about.com/od/poland/a/Polandchristmastraditions.htm 

http://www.whychristmas.com/cultures/poland.shtml 

http://www.pwaa.org/Polish_Advent_Traditions.htm 

http://inside-poland.com/t/christmas-in-poland/

Santa: http://goeasteurope.about.com/od/poland/a/Santa-Claus-In-Poland.htm

Saint Nicholas: http://www.stnicholascenter.org/pages/poland/

Recipes:
http://www.pwaa.org/Polish_Christmas_Recipes.htm

http://culture.pl/en/article/the-12-dishes-of-polish-christmas

http://www.polskafoods.com/polish-recipes/how-polish-christmas-wigilia-recipes

http://easteuropeanfood.about.com/od/polishchristmastraditions/tp/Wigilia.htm



How do you celebrate Christmas?

Do you have any resources for a Polish Christmas?

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