Old customs connected with Christmas have flourished for hundreds of years throughout the countryside of Poland. On Christmas Eve there are many fortunes told and customs performed for the following year. Most are related to weather, health, and matrimonial status and are observed on this day to ensure a plentiful New Year.

    Here are a few customs related to health:
  • Once you wake up, better not go back to bed - this will certainly bring illness.
  • A dry crust of bread and a coin placed in a basin with cold water ensures plenty of food and physical strength for the following year
  • The first person entering the house on this morning should be a man to guarantee health for the whole household; a woman entering would mean sickness.
  • On Christmas tree decorations: apples bring beauty and health, ornaments made out of straw bring wealth, and nuts bring happiness and love.
  • A sneeze that day guarantees health.
  • Polishing your teeth with garlic ensures strength..
  • Apples are eaten at supper on this day prevents throat infection, and nuts are eaten for a toothache.
  • After supper, animals are fed the leftovers and a piece of the oplatek wafer to ensure their health and fine offspring.
  • Place a piece of iron under the Christmas Eve table for everybody to touch to make sure their legs are strong and healthy.
    Weather, wealth and marriage were very important in the lives of the whole villages, so some customs were strictly observed:
  • A Sunny Christmas Eve day guarantees lots of eggs as well as a marriage for young and poor; a cloudy day signifies a lot of milk and marriage to the old and wealthy.
  • When cleaning fish, do not throw scales away - put them in your wallet and they will bring wealth. Also, you may place scales in a red sack. Nail it to the door - it will bring love.
  • Sweeping floors should be done ``from the door" as not to sweep young men away.
  • On the way to Midnight mass, young people read fortunes out of picket fences: tall, short, thick, thin...
  • Every dish has to be tasted; if not, it will bring bad harvest to a certain product.
  • Place straw under the tablecloth - it will bring wealth. Also, unmarried girls will be able to tell fortune on their future marriage - long and green straws will bring a speedy marriage, a blackened blade meant a long wait, and a yellow blade meant staying single forever.
  • Everybody has to have coins on them at supper – this brings wealth.
  • Christmas Eve supper has to have twelve different dishes for each month of the year to ensure wealthy year.
  • Go visit a neighbor and try to steal a small item - this will ensure wealth for you. You have to return an item on St. Stephen's Day (Dec. 26).
  • By the end of the supper, eat an apple and count the seeds - an even number foretells great love, and a number greater than six seeds means a wedding is guaranteed.
  • If unmarried girls are at the table, ask them to place a piece of fish on the floor and then let the dog into the room. The girl whose piece he eats first is the girl who gets married first.
  • After a mass on St. Stephen's day (12/26), people threw wheat or rice at each other. This was to bring good harvest and wealth in coming year.
    And there were others:
  • There was a belief that on Christmas Eve, water in a well turned into wine.
  • At midnight, animals speak human voices, but it is bad luck to overhear them.
  • Winning at card game that day brings happiness for the whole year.
  • In a region threatened by wolves, leftovers from Christmas Eve supper was placed outside the gate to invite the wolves which, when treated well, would not harm the host.
  • One plate at the table was always left for the dead relative.
  • There was no leaving the table at supper; it supposed to bring bad luck or even death.
  • Before sundown, everything from the outside had to be brought into the house. Anything brought after supper was going to be eaten by mice.
  • Mistletoe was cut off, dipped in wax, and placed in a beehive to bring a lot of honey.
  • People make sure they wake up early on Christmas Eve - this will ensure we will never be late.
  • After supper, tie all the dirty spoons together - it will ensure that the family will stay together.
  • After supper is also the time to blow out the candles - if the smoke goes towards the window it foretells the birth of a baby. If it goes up, a wedding. Towards the door indicates a funeral.
  • No spanking children - this will bring problems to them.
  • Do not lend anything - you will be missing this thing all year round.
  • Do not leave laundry on the line - this is guaranteed to bring problems over from one year to the next.
  • Make sure to have candles on the table. Each person has to see their shadow on the wall - a lack of shadow means death in coming year.
  • When sitting down to supper, blow on your chair - you may sit on a ghost that came to join you at supper.
  • Christmas Eve night was not quiet and calm. That night, after dead souls were fed, they were thrown out of the house by banging pots and pans.

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