Today, I’m partnering with Tony’s Fresh Markets again – one of my favorite Chicagoland grocery stores – to share some more of my favorite holiday traditions. Also, there’s a giveaway for a giftcard to Tony’s at the end of this post! Read Part one here
Throwback to a Christmas many years ago!
Recap: Christmas for my family means celebrating lots of traditions. First, here’s 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.
That’s right, on Christmas Eve, the Polish tradition requires that you don’t eat meat. I’m embarrassed to share that I don’t remember where this tradition comes from, but I have a feeling it has to do with Catholicism. So what do we eat instead?! Cabbage! Lots of cabbage – in different forms – pierogi being the most popular. Pierogi can be filled with a number of different fillings (seriously, some restaurants in Poland have about 50 different fillings!), but on Christmas Eve we eat cheese-and-potato-filled pierogi, and cabbage-and-mushroom-stuffed pierogi.
Delicious pierogi served with grilled onions
We also eat a lot of fish in different forms, vegetable salad, baked potatoes with a mushroom sauce, and bread. And, of course, the beet soup – Barszcz – that I mentioned in my previous post. The Barszcz is eaten with little dumplings called “ushka”, which literally means “little ears.” These little dumplings may sound similar to pierogi, but the filling is actually a little different.
Tony’s is Your Destination for International Products
All of these traditional Polish dishes require a number of unique Polish ingredients that can be hard to find at a local American grocery store. Tony’s Fresh Market is stocked with many international products, but particularly a lot of Polish products. They have a whole aisle dedicated to my people! I know when my parents come to spend Christmas in Chicago this year, we are going to go to Tony’s to stock up on all the cabbage, mushrooms, and Polish ingredients we need in order to have a proper Polish Christmas Eve meal.
I assure you we’re not anti-Santa, but Santa comes on December 6, which is St. Nicholas’s day. Traditionally, we don’t get big presents this day–think more along the lines of candy, or some small toys. On Christmas Eve, an angel brings presents to the children. And yes, that means we open all of our presents on Christmas Eve!! I’ve never had to wait until Christmas morning to open my presents. Speaking of candy, the Polish candy and sweets selection at Tony’s Fresh Market is on point! I was excited to see some of my favorite Polish candy bars, like Prince Polo and Milka chocolate. I stocked up to give Ollie his first taste of European chocolate.
What Polish St. Nicholas looks like
Other Holiday Traditions
One of our other traditions includes praying every night for advent, and we like using advent calendars; of course, the chocolate kind are preferable 😉 . My family traditionally used to decorate our tree the night before Christmas Eve, and we keep our tree until at least the Holiday of the Three Kings, which is usually mid-January. Polish tradition reminds us that the Christmas season technically doesn’t begin until Christmas day, and it definitely does not end December 26. I’m trying to find a happy medium between the Polish traditions and my husband’s American traditions. My family definitely has a lot more Christmas traditions than my husband’s side, and luckily my husband has embraced these traditions. However, we are still coming up with our own traditions and that has been fun! For example, the past two years we’ve decorated cookies and gingerbread houses while listening to Christmas carols. We also make banana monkey bread for Christmas morning!
Ollie wanted some cinnamon pinecones!
$50 Giftcard Giveaway
I’m hosting a giveaway to win a free $50 giftcard to Tony’s to make it easier for you and your family to 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.