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Dressed in glorious robes and bearing hearts and apples, St. Nicholas helps celebrate Christmas in Poland through a host of wonderful traditions and super- stitions. Poles believe that Christmas Eve not only serves as a day for family get-togethers and reconcili- ations--it's also a time when animals can talk and even tell the future! Many Poles can be heard to say, "As goes Christmas Eve, so goes the year", and thus they try their best to be kind, forgiving, jolly and upbeat on this most important of days.
Christmas superstitions in rural Poland often focus on how soon a single girl will be married. If a girl grinds poppy seed on Christmas Eve, legend has it, she can hope for a wedding soon. After dinner, when this girl leaves the house, she listens for the first dog to bark. The direction of the bark indicates where her true love will come from! Many other traditions having to do witha a girl's upcoming marriage focus on picket fences, water, wood, iron, leather, and even dreams
On Christmas Eve, according to tradition, Polish women clean and sweep their houses thoroughly, then cook a traditional meal with 12 dishes. The more each person eats, the more pleasure is thought to be on the way to his or her future. Polish Christmas carols date back to the 1300s, and are sung with great gusto even today. Another wonderful tradition is that of the Polish creche, with annual competitions for the best creche held in Cracow.
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