What the Carp!? A Polish Christmas Eve Tradition

While walking around the neighborhood today I saw huge tanks filled with half-dying (I am a pessimist) giant silvery fish. The tanks were outfitted with an air pump, but the fish were bobbing around, with no room to swim and were barely breathing. The sign on the tank said either “Clean Carp” or “Live Carp,” and there was quite a fuss in order to acquire the fish.

Carp are actually related to goldfish and can be caught right in New York City, like in Kissena Lake in Queens. I assume these were locally caught but could not get a straight answer from where exactly.

Why carp? According to the interweb: “In Poland, Christmas Eve is a day first of fasting, then of feasting. The Wigilia feast begins at the appearance of the first star. There is no red meat served but fish, usually carp … Carp provides a main component of the Christmas Eve meal across Poland; carp fillet, carp in aspic etc.”

Here is a recipe for carp aspic in case you are curious.

About Jen G

After living in NYC my entire life, I found the strongest sense of community in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. Running this blog is truly an honor and the best part is meeting its readers in real life. Everyday I am energized by smiles and inspiring conversations with fellow Greenpointers who tirelessly do and create incredible things that are good for our community and share the same love I have for life here. If you see me walking with my little dog "D" - please say hi!


  1. Rocco Galatioto says:

    It isn’t a real fish unless it’s from the sea and the only sea is the Thyrrenian Sea. Everything else is a compromise.


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *