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Christmas is the most popular and family holiday in Poland

Christmas is the most popular and family holiday in Poland. Christmas is preceded by many days of preparation. Streets are lit by coloured lamps, shops are full of people buying presents. The atmosphere of excitement and expectation can be felt almost everywhere. The day preceding Christmas Eve is a unique one. It is believed that everything that might happen on in might influence the whole year to come. Much attention, for instance, is paid to the person who first enters the house and if it is a man, he ensures welfare to all members of the family. Some people say that if you ask for food on that day, you will be hungry throughout the year. The moment everyone waits for is Christmas Eve. When the first star appears in the sky, people take seats at the Christmas table. They do not forget about leaving an empty place for an unexpected guest. The table is covered with white tablecloth and hay is spread on it. Another custom is the number of dishes. Traditionally there should be twelve of them and they must all be tasted. The most popular dishes are red borsch, pies or sour cabbage with mushrooms, fish - usually carp and poppy - seed cake. Before the family starts eating, all its members share the holy wafer. There is also a custom of giving presents and everyone may find something nice under the Christmas tree. At midnight many people go to church to attend a special mass during which Christmas carols are sung. This night is miraculous because it is believed that animals can speak with human voices. The first day of Christmas is usually spent at home. On that day carol - singers dressed as an angel, a devil, king Herod or Death visit people's houses (but now only in villages). They sing carols and play various scenes from the Bible. The next day is free to, everybody go to visit family or friends.

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