Today, I’m partnering with Tony’s Fresh Markets – one of my favorite Chicagoland grocery stores – to share some of my favorite holiday traditions. Also, there’s a giveaway for a giftcard to Tony’s at the end of this post!
My Polish Roots
Christmas for my family means celebrating lots of traditions. A little background about my family: my family is Polish and I am a first generation American in my family (first to be born in America). My parents immigrated to the U.S. in the 1980’s for graduate school and decided to stay in America. My parents loved the opportunities America offered and embraced much of American culture, but were also proud of their Polish heritage, and instilled this pride in me. Even though my entire extended family lived in Poland, my parents joined a community of Poles, and one of my grandmothers was always visiting us from Poland. I grew up speaking Polish fluently (much to my mother’s credit) and embracing Polish traditions. My family’s Polish Christmas traditions are my favorite out of all our family traditions.
Here’s my Family at Christmas circa 1988
To me, there is something so magical about the Advent season, and then the Christmas season. My family is Catholic (as are many Poles) and Advent – the season of preparation – is a big deal for us. It’s about much more than chocolate calendars and counting down the days till Christmas. Although a little daily dose of chocolate never hurts. 😉
Showing Oliver how neat Advent calendars can be while shopping at Tony’s 🙂
My favorite Polish traditions around the holidays include:
Sharing Oplatek: This is a very similar wafer to a communion wafer if you’ve celebrated that at a Catholic church. We each share a piece of the wafer and tell each person what we wish them for the coming year. It is a wonderful way to tell those you love most why you love them and what your hopes and dreams are for them. Spoiler alert: there are usually happy tears involved. I’m pleased to share that you can find these wafers at Tony’s Fresh Market.
The Traditional Polish Dishes: Specifically Barszcz-a delicious beet soup! Now hear me out: you may hear the word “beet” and think, “gross!” but Barszcz is sooo delicious, it’s worth trying at least once in your life! And this is coming from a girl who thinks raw beets taste like dirt. The soup is 1000 times more delicious. The Polish version is made with beets, celery, onion, garlic, carrot, and lemon. Although there are quite a few variations of Barszcz recipes! The broth itself is a dark purple color and we eat it with little mushroom filled-dumplings called uszka (literally means little ears).
Ollie was interested in holding and tasting the beets (we had to stop him from taking a big bite)
Why I Love Shopping at Tony’s
Speaking of fresh beets, I was amazed by the fresh produce offered at Tony’s Fresh Market. My family shopped at the Bolingbrook location, but Tony’s has several locations in the Chicago suburbs and quite a few in the city. We went on a Sunday afternoon, which a time when produce is often picked through and ragged from all the shoppers, but not at Tony’s. They have quite a variety of fresh produce, all beautifully washed and great prices to boot! I do try to be a savvy shopper with groceries and love that I can check Tony’s weekly ad online to see what’s on sale this week.
I also love pierogi during the Christmas season, as this is one of the few times my family makes them from scratch–both the dough and the filling. It is quite a labor of love to make pierogi, but the end result is worth it. If you’re unfamiliar with pierogi, they are dumplings filled with any number of items, but during Christmas my family has two kinds: a potato and cheese variety, as well as a cabbage and mushroom kind. Traditionally, we do not eat meat during Christmas Eve.
Tony’s makes it so convenient to shop for Polish items, as they have several international aisles dedicated to cuisines and food products from other countries. The Bolingbrook store had a whole aisle dedicated to just Polish foods. I was in heaven! I love that Tony’s actually imports all the highest quality Polish brands that my family has been purchasing for years. The Polish foods range from pickled vegetables, to Polish mineral water, to the best Polish chocolates.
My family is still fairly new, but we are building our own traditions and I’m happy to say that we are incorporating a lot of Polish traditions. My husband, Mike, is American, but fully embraces my heritage and wants Oliver to be fluent in Polish and to know all of his Polish family’s traditions. I can’t wait to teach Oliver about all of these traditions when he is a little older.
Here’s a picture from our first Christmas as a family of three in 2017:
Yes, the bakery at Tony’s Fresh Markets is so great, it deserves it’s own section! Besides offering a large variety of baked goods, including Polish, Italian, and American, Tony’s offers fresh baked goods from other local bakeries. For example, I found bread from a well known Polish bakery located in downtown Chicago that can be purchased at Tony’s. My whole family enjoyed the free samples of brownies and delicious orange sponge cake in the store.
I am hosting Christmas at my house for the first time ever this year (I’m nervous!) and my family and I will definitely be shopping at Tony’s for all of our holiday essentials. I know my parents will be thrilled to learn about the variety of Polish products I will be able to get from Tony’s.
And Ollie is a connoisseur in Polish mineral water 😉
$50 Giftcard Giveaway
I’m hosting a giveaway to win a free $50 giftcard to Tony’s, to make you and your family be able to enjoy your holiday traditions. I’d love to hear about your traditions, so tell me in the comments what your favorite family tradition is!
There are many ways to enter. Click HERE to enter.
Thank you to Barb from Just Ducky Photography for the wonderful pictures of my family shopping.
Thank you to Tony’s Fresh Markets for sponsoring this post; however, all opinions are my own.