Christmas in Wales: Facts About Welsh Christmas Traditions

Here are some facts about Welsh Christmas traditions and celebrations.

  • Singing is a popular part of Christmas in Wales. Traditionally, carols were sung in churches, and also around the Christmas tree in homes, often accompanied by music played on a harp.

  • In Wales, as in other parts of the UK, the day after Christmas is celebrated as Boxing Day. The name may have come from 17th century tradesmen and postmen being given a Christmas box.
  • The traditional Welsh Christmas church service is usually between 3am and 6am on Christmas morning. Some rural churches are still lit with hundreds of decorative candles.
  • Many larger Welsh towns have a Christmas market to celebrate the festive season in. These are modelled after the famous German markets, and sell food and drink, toys and decorations.
  • Some Welsh families eat a goose on Christmas Day, instead of a turkey. Also popular is making taffy, a traditional and delicious soft chewy toffee, made from butter and sugar.
  • A Child’s Christmas in Wales is a book by the famous Welsh poet Dylan Thomas. It is about a nostalgic and old-fashioned look at Christmas, as seen through the eyes of a small child.
  • During the late 19th century, drinking from the wassail bowl was a popular Welsh New Year tradition. An ornate bowl was filled with fruit, spices, sugar and warm beer.
  • The Mari Lwyd ritual is still practiced today in some rural parts of Wales. A group of male singers dance through the streets, carrying a large wooden and paper horse.
  • Christmas in Wales includes many seasonal delicacies and treats. Mince pies and Christmas pudding are popular, and some families hide coins and silver charms in the pudding, to bring good luck.
  • Wales is home to several historic narrow gauge steam locomotives. At Christmas, the trains are decorated with lights and wreaths, and children can ride with Father Christmas and receive a small present.

What next? Discover more facts about Wales.

Christmas in Poland: Facts About Polish Christmas Traditions

Here are some facts about how Christmas is traditionally celebrated in Poland.

  • During Advent (the period leading up to 25 December) many Polish households bake piernik (gingerbread). Pierniki are made into the shapes of hearts, St Nicholas figures and animals.

  • The figure of St. Nicholas doesn’t really have a role to play on Christmas Eve in traditional Polish celebrations. Instead, he is celebrated on December 6, his saint day, when he delivers presents to deserving children.
  • Polish Christmas trees are traditionally decorated with garlands, fruit, wrapped chocolate, candles, painted eggshells, and other homemade ornaments. At the top of the tree a star is placed.
  • Candles, or sparklers in some homes, are positioned on the Christmas tree and lit on Christmas Eve. Some families leave there tree up until February 2.
  • During Advent oplatek (wafers containing a holy picture) are shared with neighbours and family.
  • Wigilia is the name given to the Christmas Eve meal eaten in Polish homes. Traditional food is served and the meal can often last for more than two hours.
  • Carp is often one of the main dishes, and nearly all families serve barszcz (beetroot soup).
  • Traditionally the meal can’t begin until the first star can be seen in the sky, and sometimes money is placed under the tablecloth for each guest to discover. Sometimes an empty chair is left at the table for the Baby Jesus or a needy traveler.
  • Some families serve 12 dishes at the Wigilia meal, one for each of the 12 Apostles.
  • Many families end their Christmas Eve celebrations by attending Pasterka (Midnight Mass). at their church.
  • In Poland, Christmas Carols are often sung after Christmas Day until February 2.
  • Poland is famed for its hand-blown glass Christmas ornaments and decorations. Most of these are produced in the south of the country.
  • Durign the Advent period, pupils in Polish schools take part in Nativity plays called Jaselka.
  • Apparently, watching the movie Home Alone has become a modern Christmas tradition in many Polish homes.
  • Merry Christmas in Polish is Wesołych Świąt.
  • Christmas presents are customarily exchanged after the meal on Christmas Eve.
  • Polish families spend Christmas Day (the First Holiday) visiting friends and family.

What next? Discover more about Poland.