recipes for christmas eve.

We have a myriad of traditions on for Christmas, the majority of which take place on Christmas Eve. My husband is from Warsaw, Poland {for those of you who haven’t heard me mention that 18 times already} and we like to follow his Polish traditions for Christmas Eve {Wigilia} and my American ones on Christmas Day.

The biggest thing about Christmas Eve, for the kids anyway, is that we open all the gifts that night. That’s the grand culmination of the day though, and not the most important part by a long shot. Food is the central theme; we basically eat from sunup to sundown, and beyond. Christmas Eve dinner is a big deal in Poland. It’s a really big meal, something like 11 courses. We have yet to attempt all the courses ourselves {my mother-in-law does it} but we just make a sampling of what we like.

We start the day with just a nice breakfast, which Viktor makes. Today it was oven-baked French Toast, {yum!} but it doesn’t really matter just as long as we’re eating. We eat before we start cooking, and eat while we’re cooking, and cook while we’re eating. You get the drift.

After we’re done cooking {about 4 or 5 p.m.} we sit down at a fully set table: good china, linen napkins, wine goblets, and candlelight. We place a little bit of hay under the tablecloth {to remember the Christ child in the manger} eat some Oplatek, “a thin, unleavened wafer similar to the altar bread in the Roman Catholic Church. It is stamped with the figures of the Godchild, the blessed Mary, and the holy angels. The wafer is known as the bread of love and is often sent by mail to the absent members of the family. and then dig in and eat the fruits of our labors.

Here’s what’s on the menu: {It’s all over the place; we’re meshing two countries here}

Polish Barscz

1 stick butter
5-6 large beets {insert Dwight Shrute joke here}
1 onion {it calls for one, Viktor uses two}
salt & pepper to taste
2 T vinegar
1/4 tsp. dill weed {we skip this, I’m sure it’s on my behalf}
1 pint sour cream

Bring 1 1/2 quarts of water to a boil, add butter. Peel and grate onion and beets. Cook about 30 minutes, until beets are cooked.

Viktor likes to let his sit overnight in the pot, if he has time. It adds more flavor.

Serve cold with a dollop of sour cream on top.

Artichoke Dip

2/3 c. Parmesan cheese
1 14 oz. can artichoke hearts
2/3 cup mayonnaise {not miracle whip!}
1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
1 T. olive oil
1 T. lemon juice

Preheat oven to 325 F. Grease medium size casserole dish

whipping cream
Drain and chop artichokes and stir in with olive oil and lemon juice.

Bake 25 minutes or until golden.

Serve with a dry baguette or some french bread. Delicious!



10 oz. mushrooms
4 oz. butter
1 onion
1-2 T. breadcrumbs
sprig of parsley

Chop mushrooms and sautee in butter, adding onion, breadcrumbs, and parsley.

yolk of one egg
1 1/2 lbs. flour

Mix flour with egg yolk and water to make dough. Knead and roll into a thin layer, and cut into 1-2 inch squares.

Put mushroom filling into the center of the squares. Fold opposite corners together and pinch all along the edges. Boil for 5 minutes, or until tender. Fry in frying pan with butter until slightly brown all over. Serve with Barscz. Yum!

English Christmas Trifle

1 yellow cake, baked and cubed {for layering}

1 pint heavy cream
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 4.6 oz. package cook & serve {not instant!} vanilla pudding mix
1 {8 oz.} jar seedless raspberry or strawberry jam
1/2 cup sherry {see recipe below for non-alcoholic substitute}
1 pint fresh strawberries, rinsed and sliced
1 pint blueberries

sherry substitute:
{for 1/2 cup sherry}
1/4 c. vinegar
1 T. sugar
1/4 cup water

Layer cubes of spongecake on the bottom of a glas
s serving bowl. Top with strawberries, sugar, and {fake} sherry. Spoon in {chilled} pudding. Top with whipped cream and whole berries. Chill until served. {10-12 servings}

Once we’re completely and totally stuffed, we start with the presents. We read the story of Jesus’ birth in the Bible {Luke 2: 1-20}, sing some Christmas carols, and then…. let the materialism begin! We open presents late into the night letting the kids set the pace. After we’re all done {and the kids are completely beside themselves with hysteria} we go to bed and wait for Santa to come {this is the part where you put out the reindeer food and cookies for Santa}.

In the morning we find our stockings stuffed with treats and spend the morning playing with new toys, reading our newest books, eating, and lazing about the house before we head over to my parents’ house for round two…

{photos found here, here, here, & here}.

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Hello there! I'm Allison Czarnecki, founder + editor of Petit Elefant, a blog all about style on a budget for every part of your life: style / home / travel / family. I do a lot of how-to beauty + style tutorials, travel posts, easy recipes, home remodel projects, and cool DIY crafts you totally want to try. I'm super happily married (to a hot Polish immigrant) and am the mother of two kids, a daughter and son, all of whom are featured here on the regular. We live in the country but we're a little bit rock + roll. Welcome!


  1. Naomi :

    Oh, wow. The dumplings actually made me salivate. Yum.

    Have a great holiday!

  2. Toni-Lynn :

    I would love to have more of your Polish Recipes! I am Polish as was my dad and I would love to learn to make some of these things :)

  3. beachbungalow8 :

    ok, now I’m starving.

    happy holidays!



  4. the HeartTongues :

    ok, i am DEFINITELY holding you to your “offer”…!!! :) what fun!

  5. Donna :

    love the names for some of those recipes

  6. KJ :

    how wonderful to have such a rich cultural heritage to share. Trifle is a great dessert–sometimes I make individual trifles in goblets to serve our guests!

  7. Soho500 :

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    pics …. Must admit you have a great sense of style. Keep up the good
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    Barbara and Ellen
    The Gals at SoHo