East Lancashire's Polish community set for early Christmas celebrations (From Burnley and Pendle Citizen)
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East Lancashire's Polish community set for early Christmas celebrations
4:00pm Monday 23rd December 2013 in News
MOST people in East Lancashire are looking forward to celebrating Christmas on Wednesday — but for the region’s Polish community the festivities will kick off earlier.
Christmas in Polish is ‘Bo¿e Narodzenie’, which translates as 'God's Birth', and in Poland the biggest celebrations are held to mark the end of Advent on Christmas Eve.
The special ‘Wigilia’ feast — meaning the vigil of Christmas — begins at the appearance of the first star.
Bernadette Drozd from the Lancashire Europa Project, which helps eastern European nationals settle in areas of the county, said: “Some of our local Polish community members will be travelling to Poland to join family and friends.
“Similarly, invited family members and friends will join the Polish families in the UK.
“Many will stay here to celebrate. The celebrations will be in their private homes.
“Community members will gather at the local catholic churches for vigil or midnight Holy Mass on Christmas Eve and on Christmas Day. Wherever I am I will be celebrating in the Polish way!”
With large Polish communities in Blackburn, Burnley and Nelson preparations have been in full swing for several months. Polish families prepare 12 traditional dishes as well as decorating the Christmas tree and placing the crib in the nativity on Christmas Eve.
Bits of hay are spread beneath the tablecloth before dinner as a reminder that Christ was born in a manger. In the evening, children watch the sky anxiously hoping to be the first to cry out, ‘The star has come!’.
Only after it appears can the family members sit down to a dinner table. A special place at the table is also set for an absent unexpected guest or in memory of the departed.
Wigilia is not a Polish Christmas dinner. It is instead the celebration of the end of Advent and the awaiting of the birth of Christ.
Polish Christmas celebrations continue on the December 25 with the feast of the Birth of Christ, and on December 26 — the Feast of St Stephen — when people attend Holy Mass and visit family.
Christmas carols are sung and gifts are exchanged, and members of the Polish community often visit cemeteries to light candles and pray at the graves of their loved ones.
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