Hey everyone! It is Christmas Eve! This is such a fun time because Christmas is a fun time to be with family, and because we have school break.
A cool thing (and some might think it’s odd) that I wanted to point out is that Polish people have a different tradition of Christmas. We open presents and celebrate Christmas on Christmas Eve. Usually we eat dinner when the first star comes out (or it gets dark outside); this references to when the three kings followed the first star to Bethlehem. Before we eat, we pass around a wafer called opłatek and wish we other a good year. Usually you need 11-13 different plates of food, and one plate of food should be left over for any guests that unexpectedly come by. We are also not allowed to eat meat that entire day. Afterwards, the children were dismissed to go somewhere else, and Santa came with the presents. Then everyone opened their presents. They sang Christmas songs after called Koledy. And at 12am, we attend a mass called Pasterka. It’s super fun – plus, we get Christmas presents earlier!
The story of the nativity is associated with this day, too. An example of a nativity scene is in an altarpiece in Krakow in St. Mary’s church. This wood altarpiece was created by Wit Stwosz.
This elaborate altarpiece was created around 1477 and 1484. It was created with a Linden tree, and it was gilded and colored. This altarpiece was in Krakow till around 1941. Hans Frank, a Governer-Gerneral who occupied Poland, stole it and hid it in hte Nuremberg Castle. In 1946, it was found and brought back by Count Emeryk Hutten-Czapski. The altarpiece managed to stay pretty well intact, for the most part, considering how bombed the castle was. In 1957, it was put back in the church.
What’s interesting about this work is that it was the altarpiece of this church for a couple centuries. A majority of the time with art, we see that altarpieces get replaced by different artists or by artpieces that fit in more with the time period. Here, this altarpiece is a part of the church, and nothing has replaced it.
This altarpiece includes a scene of the nativity; I just realized that is not the may focus on this work. This work revolved around many scenes in the life of Christ and Mary.
Have a lovely break and Christmas everyone!
Feature Image from mariacki.com