In the 6th century, the solemn Midnight Mass, known as Pasterka in Poland, originated in Jerusalem and Bethlehem. Today, it continues to be celebrated in the Milk Grotto and the Bethlehem basilica, marked by a silver star where Jesus is believed to have been born.
Introduced in the Middle Ages, Pasterka became a cherished tradition in Poland. Despite evolving over time, the essence of the midnight mass remains intact, drawing crowds to villages and cities alike. The faithful gather to sing carols and participate in the sacred service.
While the Mass tradition endures, some unique customs have dwindled. In the past, farmers raced to church, believing the first to arrive would reap the best harvest. Pranks and mischievous acts, like ink in the stoup or sewing skirts, once accompanied the service, foreshadowing the upcoming carnival season.