Christmas Time in Poland – Part 2

(First, I have to apologize for how late this second part is. I’ve had a lot going on in January and just never got around to writing it until now. Enjoy!)

I got to Warsaw about 9:30pm Friday night after sitting in a 2 hour delay on the train (always fun). But my week was so much fun, despite the rocky beginning. My friend, Filip, picked me up from the station and we grabbed some Mickey Ds before going to his grandma’s place for the week. She was such a sweet lady, always wanting to strike up conversation even though I hardly understood anything she said. She had an old dog named Reksio that always made an appearance at meal time to wheezily beg for scraps.

Christmas Eve (I dunno why he’s making that face :P)

Christmas Eve is a more important day than Christmas Day itself. Filip, Babcia and I went over to his parents’ apartment for dinner. The first thing was to give blessings for the year and show gratitude for each other. So, we all went around to break a wafer (kind of like a communion wafer, actually) and wish each other well for the year to come. It was really sweet and something that my family had never done intentionally before. The next thing was borscht soup to start, then there was pierogi, fish, some kind of pastry (it was good!) and szarlotka (apple cake). We had mandarin oranges and orange juice as well. After the meal, we exchanged gifts — I got some sweet boxing gloves and gear from Filip and Mariusz, and a lovely bracelet and ornament from Filip’s parents–before just chatting around the table. Childhood photo albums were broken out which was fun and maybe a little embarrassing for Filip, but he had a smile on his face anyway.

Later on, I went with Mari and Filip to see Old Town on Christmas Day and enjoy the lights. I tried some grilled cheese thing that wasn’t my favorite, but apparently, tradition. The day after, I went to a holiday party with my other friends, the Paprockis, and got to see Star Wars: the Last Jedi that evening (such a good movie!). The rest of the week was pretty relaxed. Filip and I watched Nigerian movies and ate lots of cake, then worked it off with a run. When he had work, I’d be with Mariusz and even went to a boxing class and learned quite a lot in 1.5 hours.

Photo shenanigans in Old Town Warsaw

Babcia taught me how to make a potato dumpling (I can’t remember the name of it) and we had them for lunch the same day, while she shared stories of her family history and later showed us pictures of herself, her husband and her sister. At the end of the week, Filip and Mariusz drove me back home (I had so much stuff to carry back) and I got to work putting together a last-minute costume for Sylwester/New Year’s Eve.

Potato dumplings before they’re fried

The New Year’s Party in Zakosciele was AH-MAZING. They had a giant clock on the stage, multiple performances (including mine) of pop songs, photo shoots for everyone in costume and delicious goodies all night. I was still pretty tired from my week in Warsaw, but I had a blast, laughing, dancing and being a part of it all.

Itsy Bitsy Spider at her finest

The weekend after that was the last three days for Journey to Bethlehem. The weather was perfect on Saturday, and because it was also a holiday, we had a record 2,000 some people come through in that day alone! Needless to say, we went through our program about three times before we could wrap it up. We had a gospel choir from Katowice with us performing, which was so cool and I got to see my good friend Anna that I’d met two years ago at Fishart camp again. We chatted about what’s been going on and I may end up going to the choir’s 15th anniversary performance in April. Possibly even collaborate on something together; we’ll see…


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