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Monday, July 15, 2013

Trip to Poland - Part 2 - Traditions

I asked my relatives to give me some examples of family traditions.

 Janek inherited his farm from his father. He told me that he inherited the land because his younger brother Josef was emigrating to Canada.  I was surprised to hear that Joseph, the youngest would inherit the land and not Czeszek, the eldest.  Janek explained that the youngest always inherited the land because as each older sibling married, the younger siblings and their parents always helped the couple establish themselves in their new life.  By the time the youngest was ready to marry, his/her siblings already have farms of their own and the parents are older.  The youngest is given the established farm to give them their head start in life.
  When I asked Czeszek, his son Piotrek described a Christmas tradition that they continue to do every year.  On Christmas Eve, hay is brought into the house and set on the table (symbolizing Christ's birth in the stable). Oplatek (a wafer similar to communion host) is placed on the hay and everyone in the family breaks off a small piece and eats it.  The hay stays on the table until Dec 26 and is taken to the barn. Any small pieces of hay left in the house are swept up and burned.  I didn't ask if this was a widespread Polish tradition or one within our family only so I started to poke around the internet.  I was surprised at the number of websites that talked about this Polish Christmas tradition, that I had never heard of.  I found this website particularly interesting because it includes lots of interesting information about Poland including brief descriptions of the history of Poland throughout the ages: http://en.poland.gov.pl/History,319.html
 

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