Chris grew up celebrating a British Christmas day, but also celebrating Wigilia, which is the traditional Polish Christmas Eve, as his maternal grandparents were from Poland.
This was our first attempt at doing Wigilia on our own. The word comes from the Latin vigilare, to watch. This is in reference to the meal beginning after the first star comes out. It was an unusually cloudy night in Arizona, so the best we could do was Venus.
Wigilia traditionally has twelve courses. Given there were only two of us and we also had plans to prepare a British Christmas day lunch, we cut this down to three.
We went with barszcz, pierogi and fish. Barszcz is sometimes called borsch in English. There are variations on it in many of the Slavic countries. It is a beetroot soup. Poland does a clear version, that is, without cream.
Polish pasta is often served at wigilia, normally in the form of uszka (meaning little ears) i.e. a small Polish dumpling. This may well be available somewhere in the US, but we decided to just get some pierogi as they are actually part of American food culture enough that Safeway deliver them. We went with onion rather than cheddar as it seemed a lot more likely to be traditional.
Fish was essential because the Polish treat Christmas Eve like many Catholics treat Friday, i.e. ‘no meat, but fish isn’t meat.’
Here is the video of our wigilia attempt: