10 December, 2011

Getting into the Christmas Spirit: Part Two

This post is a continuation of my previous one, "Getting into the Christmas Spirit: Part One".

My contribution to our new traditions has certainly been more about decorations than anything else.
Aside from the village, a decoration that has been with me for ages is this sweet little ceramic angel.

It is a music box that plays Silent Night, but also she was a gift to me from a dear uncle when I was just a wee tot. Every year my mother would give me her box. I would carefully unwrap the angel and set her on the dresser in my bedroom around Christmas and I would fall asleep to the music she played, then around the middle of January, I would gently wrap her and put her back in her box to be stored. This little tradition of mine has been going steady since I received her some twenty-three years ago.

Of course, we all have special ornaments that mean something to us. V has some, but they remain in his mother's care until she's ready to give them up.

Below is our tree and a few of the decorations which are put on it every year with love and care:
A hand-beaded tea strainer ornament made by my mother in the 80's (top left).
An Eskimo with real polar bear fur hood and rabbit fur coat I received as a baby(top right). Don't hate me.
The first ornament we purchased together in 2009 (bottom left)
And the barbie angel my mother made in about 2005, a year before she passed away(bottom right). She sewed the dress and styled the hair. The doll even had angel wings which my mom also made, but all the feathers came off last year and I decided she looked less ragged without them. 

We actually got our tree for free this year off of Freecycle.org! It is a beautiful bushy tree, and the most "real" looking fake tree I have ever seen. I look forward to using it for hopefully several years to come.

Our mantlepiece is really the only area of our home where I can set the tone of Christmas other than, of course, the tree.  It looks a little crowded now, but soon the pinecones in the bowl there will be turned into Christmas gifts! Also, I hope to make three stockings to hang after the pinecones have vacated the premises. 

Three?? Stockings??

Why yes! 
One for my husband... one for me...

one for...

Did I "get" you? Hehehe sorry. I know that's not very nice. :-)

Our pets in my (American) household always had Christmas stockings... I shall fill his with catnip and ribbons and balls of tin foil - as those are his favorite things.

Now for the FOOOOOOD! 

Witold remembers years when his family would purchase a carp for Christmas eve several days before Christmas and keep it alive, letting it swim around in their bathtub before it became dinner. He said that sometimes it would become a family pet and would be spared. Too funny!

In Poland, it is traditional to have a twelve-course meal on Christmas eve. V says that he hasn't ever really followed that tradition, but his family always adhered to the thought of no meat and no alcohol for their meal. 

Kluski z makiem, kapusta z grzybami, i ziemniaki were often served with the carp... 

*record scratch*

Oh, what's that? You don't know Polish?

That's ok. I barely know these words, myself. Kluski z makiem is noodles served poppyseeds, honey, and nuts. Depending on the region where it's served, it can be served differently (ie. search "kutia" in Google) but V's family prefers it served as I described. Kapusta z grzybami is literally translated as cabbage with mushrooms. It's usually sauerkraut with seasoned with salt and pepper served with mushrooms sauteed in butter. And ziemniaki is the Polish word for potatoes. 
All this served with compote to drink - a deliciously amazing homemade fruit drink, made with usually hand-picked berries soaked in sugar.

Christmas day is my favorite when it comes to traditional Polish food. It's one of the few times a year we have bigos, a fantastically savory and delicious stew made with sauerkraut, plums, spices, and some meats simmered over a stove for hours and usually served the day after it's made so the flavors can marry. It. Is. WONDERFUL.
This year, I plan to share a few Polish recipes with you and Bigos will certainly be among them.

My family didn't have any really traditional foods for Christmas, other than little mincemeat pies, pumpkin pie, and possibly shrimp-dip - none of which sound half as healthy as what my husband ate growing up! And truly, none of them are... but I'll still be contributing them to our newly entwined traditions.

What will you be eating this year?

Stay tuned!
I went to a pine forest earlier this week and gathered a bunch of pine cones to make into gifts for friends for Christmas. I'll be posting a fun tutorial on making them into a practical and in my opinion, beautiful gift on Monday.

See you then!


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