Poles are very Catholic. Poles love Christmas. Poles have many traditions. My family, identifying partly with our Polish heritage, partake in a few of these traditions, mostly those relating to Christmas Eve. My family always breaks the Opłatek, a communion like wafer symbolizing the importance of family, God and friends. We also eat keep our Christmas Eve meal meatless, indulging in pierogie... many pierogie because as previous learned, you can never just have one. This delicious carbohydrate masterpiece is accompanied with fish, although not the traditional carp. (I think we stick to flounder or some other white fish.)
The traditional eating of carp is one of the newest discoveries I made here in Poland. In fact, it is quite amusing. Carp is a dirty fish, living and swimming in deep, murky, dirty, muddy water. In order to enjoy this fish, it must be cleaned thoroughly, however, a good scrub just is not enough. One way poles clean this fish is by buying it live, a few days before Christmas Eve and keeping in a bucket of clean water.... or a bathtub. Yes, a bathtub. Apparently it is a running joke that children smell before Christmas Eve because keeping the carp in the tub takes precedence over cleanliness.
A recent article posted on Polskie Radio discusses the recent animal cruelty campaign for carps. Poles are now being encouraged to buy carp on ice, claiming the treatment prior to its inevitable fate is cruel. Animal rights activists in Poland pressed hard for the fishes rights, that it now has to be treated like any other vertebrate animal. Read the article here.
Oh Poland. You and your interesting ways. I love them, even if I'll never understand them all. Especially those pertaining to your inability to provide change. No... no I do not have pięćdziesiąt siedem groszy. (57 groszy)