back to top

    Our Advent Calendar 2022. Day 17: The tradition of 12 dishes on the Christmas Eve table

    In every home, Christmas dishes are prepared on Christmas Eve. A great Polish Christmas tradition is the 12 dishes on the Christmas Eve table. What are these dishes? Why 12?

    Why 12?

    One of the most popular Christmas traditions in Poland is the 12 dishes on the Christmas Eve table. This symbolises, according to Christian tradition, the twelve apostles, while according to folk beliefs, it represents the twelve months of the year. Moreover, according to superstition, the following days in the coming year will be the same as Christmas Eve. It is therefore important to try all the dishes, as missing one means giving up one ‘pleasure’ in the coming year.

    The tradition of Christmas Eve dinner

    Christmas Eve was traditionally a fasting day, so eating is kept to a minimum on this day. The Christmas Eve dinner starts only after the appearance of the first star. All the guests gather around the table to pray, share the wafer, make their wishes and sit down to eat.

    The vast majority of dishes on the Christmas table are traditional and only appear at Christmas. These dishes may vary from region to region, but we have prepared a list of traditional 12 dishes in the Silesian Voivodeship.

    1. Compote from drought fruit

    By some loved, by others hated. Dried fruit compote is always served in salad bowls (never in glasses or cups) and only during Christmas Eve dinner. It is made from dried and smoked fruit like apples, pears, and plums. Some people also add raisins.

    2. Makówki

    Probably the most delicious dessert for Christmas. In many Silesian homes, it is impossible to imagine Christmas without a bowl with ‘makówki’. Similarly, to ‘moczka’, ‘makówki’ are prepared only during Christmas time. They are served sweet with dried fruit. Although the receipts often differ from one family to another, the foundation is always the same – the poppy!

    3. Moczka

    Moczka is made from gingerbread which must soak in lager. Then, sweet, canned pears and plums, strawberry compote and almonds are added. The preparation is quite easy but takes time. After the solemn Christmas dinner, ‘moczka’ is served for dessert.

    4. Soup from fish’ heads with crouton

    As the name itself indicated, this is a soup made from fish heads, usually carp. Although the cooking process does not look encouraging, its taste is incredibly delicious. It is served usually with croutons.

    5. Panczkraut 

    It is nothing else than potatoes with sauerkraut, well mixed and seasoned. It is worth pointing out that the ‘panczkraut’ is a very popular dish in Upper Silesia and is prepared not only during Christmas.

    6. Potatoes

    There is no need to describe potatoes. They are always served during Christmas Eve dinner. They fit all kinds of dishes prepared for this special day. 

    7. Red cabbage

    It can be said that red cabbage (modro kapusta in Silesia) is the quintessence of Silesian cuisine. Everyone in Poland knows that a traditional Silesian dinner consists of Silesian potato dumplings, a roulade and red cabbage. Therefore, red cabbage is also a must on the Silesian Christmas table. 

    8. Sauerkraut with mushrooms

    It is a traditional and domestic receipt for Christmas Eve dinner. Delicious mushroom sauerkraut is one of the Christmas Eve dishes that people await all year round. In many homes, it is compulsory to have it on the Christmas table.

    9. Fried carp

    People cannot imagine Christmas Eve without the classic carp. However, the younger generation is not keen on carp, so nowadays Poles buy it in symbolic quantities. This kind of fish is served as pan-fried or fried in the oven.

    10. Mushroom soup

    The dispute over the traditional Christmas Eve soup is still ongoing. For those who don’t like borscht, the traditional mushroom soup is the best.

    11. Borscht with ravioli

    There is no real Christmas without red borscht. Some serve it in cups, others in deep plates, but one thing is certain – this taste and aroma are known in every Polish home. There is also ravioli with cabbage and mushrooms to fulfil the taste.

    12. Siemieniotka

    It is a soup made from hemp seed. The hemp seeds are cooked and then separated from the shells. They are grounded into a paste and mixed with milk. It is served with kasha (called in Silesia the pagan kasha) or croutons.

    Do you know any other traditional dishes? Let us know 😊

    More in section