Ringing in the New Year, Polish Style
Growing up I spent a significant amount of the winter holidays stuffing my face with my nanny's terrific onion pierogi. The fact that we never stayed with my grandparents through the first of January was always a slight secret disappointment to me since Nanny's tales of Polish New Year traditions were very intriguing, to say the least.
First of all, I loved that in Poland, New Year's Eve was called Sylwester in honor of Pope Sylvester, who according to legend slew a dragon named Leviathan. Somehow I can't imagine Benedict XVI going head to head with a fire-breathing lizard.
I also liked that Polish culture practically mandated partying hard on New Year's Eve. Nanny may have been exaggerating, but her stories of New Year's celebrations of her childhood seemed to involve much drinking of champagne. Even by toddlers.
Another aspect of Polish New Year's that excited me was the opportunity to binge on makowiec. Poppy seeds are said to bring good luck, so why not eat a ton of them encased in sweet buttery dough?
The best part of Polish New Year's (and again this "fact" was filtered through Nanny) was you were NOT ALLOWED TO CLEAN on the first of the year. Something about how sweeping or taking out the trash purges the house of any good luck brought in with the poppy seeds? All I knew is that being able to postpone vacuuming up crushed potato chips sounded pretty great to me.
This New Year's I'll be eating pot roast in Texas, but in 2013 I resolve to spend the holiday eating poppy seed roll. Maybe even in Krakow.
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