Dinner is served!
Gòdë is the Kashubian name for Christmas time, which in their case is time between December 25, and January 6, the Epiphany. It’s a time filled with joy, culinary debauchery, and careless frolics. Firstly, however, there are several weeks of Advent that need to be spent in peace and quiet. When the time comes, Kashubian villages are visited by gwiżdże, local carollers. The 24th of December is when the Christmas Eve vigil supper, gwiozdka, takes place.
The list of traditional, Kashubian dishes begins with dried-fruit soup (zupa brzadowa) with noodles that is eaten instead of borscht. Following, are dishes (a maximum of ten) made with peas, beans, poppy seed, dried mushrooms and fruit, cabbage, and potatoes. There’s also plenty of fish, mostly herring and eel.
Another traditional dish is kuch, which is a type of yeast cake. The youngest ones do not wait for Santa Claus, but Father Christmas, who brings them gifts. He does not however, resemble the popular red-clad, bearded man known from pop-culture. The Kashubian giftbearer wears a sheepskin coat inside-out, and his face is covered be the so-called larva, a calf leather mask.
Christmas Kociewie Style…
An important element of Christmas in Kociewie region, which makes it stand out, is sharing – instead of the traditional Christmas wafer – a traditional flatbread, with a spread of honey to keep it sweet. Christmas delicacies include a specific, sour mushroom borscht with fresh sauerkraut decoction, and fish (usually roach or perch) in a sweet-sour sauce.
… and Żuławy Style
Traditional festivities in a Żuławy household looked completely different. Here, the Christmas Eve vigil supper tradition virtually didin’t exist until the 20th century! On this evening, children were put to bed a bit earlier, in order to allow parents to prepare the Christmas specialties, including the traditional fefernuski (ginger bread balls), and presents, brought according to tradition by a… grey horse. Teenagers went from door to door with a hand-made cribs, singing and asking for gifts and treats.
Happy New Year!
New Year’s Eve is in local tradition, of course, an occasion to have fun, but – what’s interesting – an opportunity for pranks, a sort of April Fool’s. Kashubian people pull each other’s legs, but so do people of Kociewie, where an important New Year’s ritual is chasing the old year away with whips. On New Year’s Eve, people of Kociewie eagerly foretell future to one another, pretty much like the rest of the country does on St. Andrew’s Day.
It’s the original Christmas and New Year’s customs, besides natural and tourist values and excellent accommodation, make Pomorskie one of the most popular tourist destinations in Poland during this particular time period. Local hotels have for several years now been including the new trend, which is spending Christmas away from homes. This didn’t come from nothing: our pace of life is increasing, therefore there is less and less time to prepare Christmas trees, and feasts for entire families. In effect, there is rather more stress and exhaustion than enjoying time with our relatives during Christmas time. Some even refer to it as the “pre-Christmas stress syndrome” that comes from pressure that people are exposed to when organising Christmas.
Therefore, spending Christmas in a different way than usually seems almost like salvation, and certainly – an enjoyable variation, worth trying. You will definitely find a free place at a Christmas dinner table in Pomorskie!