Christmas in Zakopane
Poland, and in particular Zakopane, is wonderful at Christmas; the decorations are incredible and clearly demonstrate the Poles' natural artistic flair. Tiny coloured lights are entwined in mistletoe, Christmas trees, and anything else to produce a riot of colour. Even the churches are filled with Christmas trees.
Christmas is a family time for Polish people - they haven't quite reached the stage of many westerners who escape on holiday to avoid whatever it is they dislike about the festive season. That does not mean, however, that Poland is devoid of tourists at Christmas - there are just fewer of them about. We met English tourists who visited different European countries for a different experience each year.
The main event is on Christmas Eve when Polish families share a meal called Wigilia. Traditionally this is meatless, usually featuring carp as one of the courses, and there are many courses. A fairly typical menu follows:
- Herring with a garnish and bread and butter
- Barscz z uszkami (clear red beetroot soup with pasta 'ears')
- Pierogi with cheese and potato or cabbage filling (a type of ravioli)
- Fried carp in bread cumbs and potato nests
- Kapusta z grochem (a casserole of peas and cabbage)
- Beetroot and horseradish salad
- Kluski z makiem (pasta ribbons with poppy seeds)
- Dessert is a Polish Christmas cake, sometimes makowiec (poppy seed cake)
- Prune and apple or other dried fruit compote
- Coffee or tea
The menu will vary slightly from family to family, the carp may be substituted by fish cakes, salmon or even shellfish. Mushrooms often feature in the form of soup or a separate dish.
Wine or other drinks are served with the meal as desired. A special wafer, imprinted with nativity images is shared amongst the family, with people wishing each other good health and fortune for the coming year. The children are then allowed to open the much awaited Christmas presents. Most people will attend midnight Mass - Poland being a predominantly Catholic country.
If you decide to eat in a hotel or restaurant at Christmas, you must book in advance, with a deposit usually required from foreign tourists. You will also find that there aren't many people eating out, so if you want to be in the company of a large number of people, book a table at one of the larger hotels or restaurants. You will also find that the meal may be served as early as 5 pm.
There was still a considerable number of people walking about in Zakopane over Christmas. Some cafes, restauarants and shops also stayed open, but things did not return to normal until two days later.
Poles celebrate the New Year or Sylwester with their friends in a big way. Hotels and restaurants organise special events, fireworks are set off and everyone drinks rather a lot. The festivites in hotels and restaurants can be quite expensive, Hotel charge about 500 zlotys per person for a champagne dinner and dance; it's an expensive night out but am told 'worth the money'.
Christmas Holiday rental in Poland, sleeps 4 to 10+cot
The house is decorated for Christmas and New Year. 2 trees.
The house has 5 bedrooms, 3 living areas, small kitchen, bathroom with jacuzzi, 2 additional WCs. Own driveway with parking for up to five cars. Small garden. Balcony with table and chairs plus BBQ.
Full gas central heating. Open fire in one living area. Jacuzzi bath to relax in.
Rabka is known as the 'town of the world's children'. It's built around an enormous central park with swing parks, restaurant, paths and cycle trails. There are 3 ski slopes in winter, toboggan run and an ice skating rink. In summer enjoy horse and cart rides, swimming pools, Rabkoland funfair.
Bus fare into Krakow is just 12 zl each way (takes just over an hour), much less to Zakopane.
Click on the photograph to view the house, or find out more about a holiday rental for Christmas or New Year . Telephone +44 (0) 1245 325 273 for bookings and information.
Related Zakopane pages