Christmas Time in Poland – Part 1

 

I’ve been so busy this month, I haven’t been able to keep up with my blogging entries as often. Proem is in the midst of Podróż do Betlejem (Journey to Bethlehem) season, which is this huge, outdoor, walk-through play that they do every year with hundreds of volunteers. I’ll have a separate post about it after the last weekend in January wraps up, but the first two weekends were really an awesome experience.

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(Note: Photos above are from the official Pierwsze Chrześcianskie Przedskole “Tomaszek” Facebook page.)

Anyway, while every weekend was busy in Zakosciele, the school week was busy with tons of Christmas festivities too. We had Mikołajki on December 6, which is basically Santa Claus’ day. The kids had a chance to sing for and sit with Santa and were given presents from their teachers. There were also musicians from Łódź philharmonic to play Christmas music one morning for the preschoolers and school-age kids, and we visited Zakosciele to practice for the school’s wigilia (Christmas Eve celebration).

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Middle and High School wigilia 

The wigilia was a huge deal because it’s this final showcase for the parents to see their kids dressed up and performing Christmas carols and presentations. The preschool dressed up as sheep, shepherds, stars, and angels, and we had a Mary, Joseph, and Wise Men as well. Each class did a song in Polish in between some spoken parts. At the end, they all did a song and dance called “Oh, What a Special Night” in English that I’d had to teach them for the past month. They had a lot of fun with it and it turned out awesome!

I was tasked with opening each of the presentations for the parents with the version of “Jingle Bells” that I’d been singing for Journey to Bethlehem, so I had to stay for the entire program, but it was cool to see each of the groups’ hard work pay off. The older kids mostly sang in chorus, with a few solo performers, and in between would have the first scenes of the play about Jesus’ birth that you’d see in the full-version of Journey. Then the families would go out to the main Bethlehem area and watch a shortened version of the full play.

The food served for wigilia is pretty much all fish. Not my favorite because I happen to have an intolerance, so I ended up eating a lot of cake and sweets that evening, which was the only thing left un-fishy. And I do mean, a lot of cake. We ended up having a ton leftover from the evening that throughout the rest of the school week, there was always a few dozen slices waiting for a hungry teacher or staff to munch.

And this past week, I had my first jazz show with the Part-Time Jazz Quartet (the group of musicians I’d been jamming with for a few months now) at a small venue in Tomaszów. It almost didn’t happen because I was so busy already between school and doing Bethlehem on the weekends, I didn’t think I would have time or energy to add another performance. I’m so glad I did.

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Part-Time Jazz Quartet featuring me! 

We had a small Christmas carols and popular songs set, eight instrumental and four with my vocals. They had someone to record it and a bunch of photos were taken as well. I’m excited to see how that all turned out but I was told the reviews were stellar. One of my coworkers who made it even said, “You should be professionally singing, really! Any time you have a performance, please let me know!” It was so great, I love those guys and I’m looking forward to doing more fun shows in the coming new year too 🙂 (And I got paid, hey hey!)

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