By Laura Stec
7 Spoons, 1 Bowl ? Polish Christmas EveUploaded: Dec 24, 2013
We celebrate Wigilia at the Stec household, a traditional Polish Christmas Eve dinner that begins after sighting the First Star. Kicking off the festivities, family members break oplatek (flat wafer blessed by the priest), exchanging well wishes for the coming year. As a child, I would run away from the affair thinking it was just too touchy feely. As a 20 and 30-something adult, I would still run away, fearing my aunt's inevitable, "I hope you find that special someone" or "May you be blessed with many children." I don't run away any longer, but always keep Dad's famous line in the back of my mind: "We used to pray for Laura to meet a good man, now we are just praying for a miracle!"
A piece of oplatek is placed on top of hay that sits center table and serves as a base for the main dishes. If the wafer sticks to a serving dish, it signifies someone at the table will be "with child" in the new year. Guests have a spoon (for the mushroom soup) and a fork for the kluski (boiled, sautéed dough topped with cottage cheese), pierogi (stuffed dough), and kapusta (seasoned sauerkraut), but are given no plate. Everyone eats from the same bowl, a custom originating from the old country, but when asked, no one seems to recall why they, or we, actually do it this way.
Traditionally, the meal is meat-free and composed of 11 dishes (symbolizing the twelve disciples minus Judas).
Many cultures have some type of stuffed dumpling; in Poland it is the pierogi. This year I helped my mom and aunt make this loved holiday delicacy. After the dough is rolled, it is cut, stuffed (with kapusta, potato, or dried plum), boiled (like bagels) and sautéed in butter. I've attached some pierogi-day pictures, and our secret family recipe for the dough.
What are your traditions that make the holidays unique and memorable?
Fillings: kapusta and dried plum
Merry, Happy Christmas Eve!
Polish Pierogi Dough
- from Helen Stec
- Makes 60
3 cups flour
5 tablespoons butter, melted
3 egg yolks, beaten
1 ½ cups sour cream
Combine all ingredients, let stand ½ hour. Roll.