We are coming down to the home stretch to Christmas Day. Now it the time to get our acts together and if we are serious about baking our family favorites we better get started planning. There is not much time left. I save the main dish cooking on Christmas Eve when I make my pagach and maybe some final batches of pierogies.
Christmas Season Traditions
In the U.S. Christmas is celebrated mainly on December 25th, in Slovakia Christmas Eve Day, December 24th, is the most special. The day starts shortly after midnight. The lady of the house begins kneading dough for the many kinds of baked goodies she will prepare. Baking had to be finished before the sunrise and the quality of the desserts was a matter of prestige. Hurrying was never good. The dough had to rise and the crust remain intact, otherwise, bad luck would surely fall upon the household.
For second and third generation Slovaks and other West Slavic people (Czechs, Poles etc.) in the U.S., Christmas Eve and its beautiful velija supper, steeped in tradition and ceremony, prepares them for the birth of the Christ Child. Deviating from the customary “American” holiday meal, the velija is a dying tradition still celebrated by select Slovaks and Czechs as a connection to the “home country” and their childhood memories. It is a fasting meal since it is the last day of Advent, but it is by no means a meager meal.
For me I usually bake the filled cookies, maybe some sugar cookies and of course make pierogies, pagach, and fish with veggies for the traditional meatless Christmas Eve dinner. I love the filled cookies made using the cream cheese dough. And then with our dinner we would pass around a Christmas Wafer called oblátky that my mom usually bought from The Holy Trinity Parish Rectory. Before we eat, everyone at the table will break off a small piece of each others wafer and then eat the pieces we collected with our remaining wafer.
I hope that you all have a very Merry Christmas and let’s keep our Slavic Traditions of the Christmas Holiday alive. Whether you be Polish, Slovak, Hungarian, Russian, German or any of the other countries that make up the Slavic Heritage, Christmas is a time for families coming together and sharing, giving, food , great desserts and most importantly celebrating the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ. Without Christ there would be no CHRISTmas.
Veselé Vianoce (Slovak); Wesołych Świąt (Polish); Boldog Karácsonyt (Hungarian); Frohe Weihnachten (German); С Рождеством (Russian); Срећан Божић (Serbian); З Різдвом (Ukrainian); Cestitamo Bozic (Yugoslavian)
Have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!