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Tuesday, 19 December 2017

Travel Tuesday: Christmas Gifts From Poland

Dearest sweethearts,

My idea of Christmas, whether old-fashioned or modern, is very simple: loving others. Come to think of it, why do we have to wait for Christmas to do that? - Bob Hope
Christmas time is a season of Hope, of Light, of Giving. It is the season to come back to your roots, to your family, to whom you truly are. I wish every one of you a wonderful Christmas next to the ones you truly love. I wish it was Christmas all year round... merry Christmas to you all! Happy holidays everyone! Be loving, caring, and enjoy the time off. 
My take on Christmas ornaments :)
In order to help you though with the quest for the perfect present, I thought I might help you - give you a helping hand. If you are in Poland you should think of bringing back to your family one (or more) of these gifts:
1) Wooden toys or even a Szopka (Christmas Nativity Scenes) - there are so many beautiful handmade wooden toys here in Poland. They are made with love and care and with great attention for details. If you have friends who have toddlers and you want a gift for them a wooden toy is a great idea! Or you can get a Szopki, a nativity scene, handcrafted at a really low price - you can display it every year for Christmas, make it as a tradition, like the Polish people ;)
2) Amber from the Baltic Sea - Poland is well known for the beautiful Amber it possesses. Any market fair will have a display of Baltic Sea goodies - bracelets, earring, necklaces, brooches; you name it, they have It! All shapes and sizes and prices raging vastly, according to everyone's pocket.
3) All those amazing alcoholic regional drinks - vodka, Nalewka, mead - Coming to Poland and being in a Christmas Market you will see large barrels from which one can buy mulled wine. It is a must! There is also mulled beer, if you are willing to try ;) and it would be a pitty not to bring some home and have at it yourself, boiling it and spicing it to your taste.
4) Tableware from Boleslawiec - Polish pottery - oh! Everyone can recognise everywhere the white and blue traditional Boleslawiec pottery.  It's handmade and quite resistant but also looks so very delicate and unique in its models, in its design. You can brighten any dinner table with a single serving plate from Boleslawiec ;)
5) Gingerbread from Torun - gingerbread is a must during Christmas and there is no greater gingerbread than the one done in Torun. Try it and see the difference for yourself! 
6) Wedel Chocolate or any traditional sweets like plums in chocolate or krowka (do be careful with these ones, they tend to get stuck to your teeth ansntheybare sweet, they have "the taste of childhood") -
7) Oscypek from the Christmas Markets throughout the big cities & kielbasa (sausage) are a must! - mmm not sure how fond of you are of traditional food but... oscypek is the traditional highland mountain cheese, kielbasa is the traditional sausage. They are delicious! Every Christmas Market has them. The best is grilled oscypek with cranberry (zurawina) sauce. 
8) Handmade items like tablecloth, hand painted Christmas ornaments, and little knick knacks - not expensive at all and very colorful and beautiful, eye catching. But they are very fragile so be careful when wrapping them up and placing them in your luggage. Especially if they are not on your hand luggage and you are on a long flight. The Christmas baubles tend to be especially tricky ;)
9) Oplatek - a very traditional Polish thing that I love dearly, a custom for Christmas that one wishes everyone would perform - it is a kind of Christmas wafer made out of water and flour in a thin shape, similar to the round ones that one gets after confession at the Catholic church. They are a reminder of the body of Christ that was broken for us. The idea is that everyone has an Oplatek and before the Christmas Eve dinner the family gathers around and everone must have a 1-on-1 session where they break a piece of each other's Oplatek and say the wishes for the new year for eachoter. It is a very lovely and intimate moment.
10) A handwritten Christmas card / postcard, actually send from Poland - I know we don't do this anymore, or we do it but not as often as we should... as I was writing this article, in order not to forget any lovely gift that you might buy, I asked the Expats from Krakow what would be the best Christmas gift from Poland. One sir pointed out that a handwritten letter would be a perfect gift. We often forget about the loved ones that they would rather have us than gifts. We forget that time passes by and we are all just dust in the wind. Take the time this Christmas, if not all year round, to tell your family how much you love them. How much they mean to you. How much you care...

Merry Christmas Everyone! And God Bless You All! 
Yours very much truly,
The Twisted Red Ladybug That Loves Christmas