I ran into Jen G on Saturday at the McCarren Park Farmer’s Market, when I was out Wigilia (Polish Christmas Eve) shopping with my brother and sister-in-law, who had stood in line for 45 minutes at Green Farms Supermarket (918 Manhattan Ave.) to buy sauerkraut fresh out of a barrel. I loved Jen’s post about Wigilia carp and she encouraged me share our own Wigilia.

Christmas season became a million times better when my sister-in-law, Magda (who grew up in Wrocław, Poland), came into my life.  This was my third Wigilia and I was psyched.  The fun (and work) began Saturday as we made and decorated gingerbread ornaments for the tree.

Sunday, Magda spent hours making barszcz (Christmas beet soup), kompot (a special digestive drink made from soaking dried fruit) and fillings for mushroom/sauerkraut and cheese/potato pierogi.

Monday afternoon was the final countdown to Wigilia that begins when the first star appears in the night sky.  We made uzka “little ears” to go into the beet soup (like mini pierogi – the best!).  We prepared halibut instead of carp, but I got to hear Magda’s childhood memories of housing a live carp in their bathtub for a few days before Christmas. We also served sauerkraut salad and celery root salad.

Before eating, we proclaimed good wishes as we fed each other pieces from the opłatek wafer.  We also made sure to place an extra setting at the table for “the wanderer.”


We happily stuffed our faces, then followed the tradition of opening presents between dinner and dessert.  The evening ended with three awesome sweets – pierniczki (gingerbread cookies), piernik (gingerbread layered with plum preserves and covered with chocolate) and makowiec (poppyseed roll) from my favorite Polish bakery in Greenpoint – Bakery Rzeszowska (on the corner of Manhattan Ave. and Java).

It was yet another delicious Wigilia.  Please share your own Wigilia stories!




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  1. Barszcz is the polish translation for borscht. There are two kinds, red and white. Red barszcz is red beet soup (not special to Christmas). Its eaten by Polish families year-round.

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