Polish Christmas Customs and Traditions. Christmas, or Wigilia, is a very important time of the year and has many ancient traditions still observed today. Days before Christmas begins Polish women will start to clean their homes completely, it is believed that if your home is dirty at Wigilia then it will remain dirty all through the coming year. Like many other countries 6th December, St.Nicholaus brings’ Mikolaj’ filling up the shoes of children with sweets, fruits and small gifts. The Christmas tree is traditionally decorated on Wigilia Day with the children. The tree is decorated using fruits, sweets and nuts wrapped in colourful foil paper, and homemade decorations. There is a strict 24 hour fast before the meal on Christmas Eve which can not begin until the first star appears in the sky. Before the meal can begin the head of the family will break the Oplatek, a wafer prepared from flour and water and, today, sold in religious shops, although formerly distributed through the parish. Once broken the Oplatek is shared out with all the members of the family. A polish Christmas Eve meal will always consist of 12 dishes, although none of them will contain meat. The Twelve dishes represent the twelve apostles and there is always an extra place set at the dinner table in case the Holy Spirit or a stranger drops by and joins them. The main dish will be fried carp, other dishes will consist of borscht, Uszka, fish soup, potato salad and fried dumplings, the family will then attend midnight mass – Pasterka, mass of the shepherds . On Christmas day everyone sits down and rests there is no cooking only prepared food that may need heating up is eaten. The 26th December is known as Holy Szczepan, or St. Stephen’s Day, this day is known as the second holidayand is spent visiting family, the evening will see carol singers visiting from house to house.