We had today a taste of Polish Christmas tradition. After our “Agape” after the midnight Mass, while four of us were still lingering by the crib in the corridor, our Polish Sisters passed by with a wagon full of goodies. They invited us to join them. Curious to know what they were, we followed them to the kitchen; and what did they have? Small jars filled with Polish dish. Their Polish friends, who attended our Holy Mass, came at the door afterwards to give them Chritsmas presents. They were so happy when they saw what was inside the bag! It was for them a wonderful surprise! Indeed, God is a God of surprises! They were only too eager to tell us their story, as well as to share the content of the gift.
They said, in Poland, December 24 is a day of fast. They may not eat a whole meal during the day and definitely no meat! It was “Wigilia” (i.e. Vigil). This day is the solemn climax of their waiting for the birth of the Savior. The family members, already dressed in their best clothes, assemble together, and at the appearance of the first star in the evening, the prayer service begins. First the Nativity Story from the Gospel of Luke is read and then they pray and sing hymns. After that they eat a festive full meal, but still without meat. After meals, they share stories, pray and sing hymns, while waiting for the Midnight Mass.
Today, as they received this unexpected present from friends, they were reminded of home. They were so happy to share with us; they also want us to have a taste not only of the tasty dishes, but also of their rich tradition. This is what we have now before us – the traditional menu for “Wigilia”.
Since our dining room was already prepared and decorated for Christmas breakfast in the morning, we stayed in the kitchen, besides, some of the food must be heated. The small jars with just enough content for two seemingly multiplied – we were all able to partake of them; it was like a picnic-miracle! We enjoyed it amid talking and laughter (since it is Christmas, we were also allowed to speak). It was enriching to share in the tradition of other culture, and in our community, we have plenty of opportunity for this, after all we are 5 nationalities here! We thank God for gathering us all into one family in Christ!