Valley Breeze

The Valley Breeze & Observer 11-28-2018

The Valley Breeze Newspapers serving the Northern Rhode Island towns of Cumberland, Lincoln, Woonsocket, Smithfield, North Smithfield, Pawtucket, North Providence, Scituate, Foster, and Glocester

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10 CHRISTMAS IN THE VALLEY 2018 NOVEMBER 28-DECEMBER 4, 2018 | THE VALLEY BREEZE & OBSERVER Family, faith and Polish traditions bring local family together at Christmas By RHONDA HANSON, Valley Breeze Staff Writer WOONSOCKET – Learning about the holidays and traditions of others binds us closer together. Extra special foods and customs are the threads that stitch us together tightly. Sharing his family's traditions is Krystian Przybylko, owner of Krakow Polish Deli, along with his sister Marta Samek. They have two stores, one in Woonsocket and the other in South Attleboro, Mass. In business for more than 20 years, on any given day you'll find his mother, Zofia, working behind the counter and conversing in her Polish language. This story is about a family whose faith is at the center of the Christmas celebrations. "Wigilia," is what the Christmas Eve vigil is called. "It's the word for the whole celebration which begins with setting the table. "Some strands of hay (like straw) is laid under the table covering, always a white cloth," he said, "to represent the stable (where Jesus was born.)" Always a place setting and a chair are added for the traveler, or lost person, to show there is room for them. It is a symbolic gesture offering hospitality and welcoming. It is different in Poland, Przybylko shared. Christmas Eve (Wigilia) is the biggest celebration for them, as they are mostly a Catholic country. It is very family-oriented but centered around our faith, he said. He and his wife, Agata, have two children and he emphasized the importance of teaching the children these traditions. "There's very solemn reasons," he said. One dresses in the very best they have, a man would always wear a suit. And the dishes are special for this holiday. The best table settings come out of storage; plates, glasses, serving platters and even special utensils are set upon the table for this occasion. The stores, shops and businesses in Poland close down at about noon and remain closed for almost three full days and through the day after Christmas. The evening begins with the children looking for the first star in the sky. That is when the dinner, oftentimes 12 courses, begins. "We do not have meat on Christmas Eve, that was a mandate from the church. But we are able to eat fish," he said. Usually they will begin with a red borsch, flavored with other vegeta- bles but strained before serving. The next food is "Uszka," a mini piero- gies that resemble a little ear. They are filled with forest mushrooms and MARTA SAMEK, co-owner of the Krakow Deli Bakery Smokehouse, above left, chops parsley for a Christmas dish. The dish consists of a red beet soup containing uszkas, which are pierogi-like noodles with mushrooms, topped with a bit of parsley. The second plate in the meal contains some hay, that has been blessed, and some rectangular communion-like bread wafers. The hay symbolizes that Jesus was born in a stable. After saying "I'm sorry" to the other guests at the table for the bad things that happened during the year past, everyone partakes of the bread wafers to symbolize a "clean start" to the new year. (BREEZE PHOTOS BY ROBERT EMERSON) are similar to a small ravioli. Fish is a favorite in Poland and there would be outdoor markets on every corner selling live fish called "karp" in Polish, "carp" here in the U.S. "Small fish, about 4 or 5 pounds, are picked out. You don't have to worry about them being fresh," Przybylko said smiling. This size would be tender and flavorful. In Poland you would have taken the fish home (from the street mar- ket) and placed it in the bathtub for a day or two. It was amusing for the children, he said, and a way for a man to be a man (when it was time to kill the fish). This dish would be served with a "jelly" gelatin made from boiling the fish heads. It was cooked down to make a broth that was very tasty and when cooled became a gel. Another fish might have been a marinated herring, which was served cold. Golumpki, usually made with rice, pork and beef, would be made using wild mushrooms and barley (instead of rice) and savoy cabbage which is sweeter and more special for the holiday. Often two different soups would be made, a mushroom soup and a soup of fried cabbage and beans, then served with a mushroom sauce over it. Pierogi with potato and cheese is important to have so the children have a meal they will eat. Small children may not have a developed Continues on next page

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