Our Eastern European Traditional Christmas Dinner


making pierogisFröhliche Weihnachten! Wesotych świat! The holidays for me bring back memories of gathering around the large table with my Polish/German family and enjoying the traditional Christmas Eve meal. It’s amazing the sentiment and joy that the holiday meal traditions can bring.

Every year, we go to our favorite Eastern European deli up in the Twin Cities, Kramarczuk’s (Kra-ma-checks).  My dad and I used to go here when I was younger to get our sausage and bread for Christmas, and during the Easter season we would always go for paczki (a Polish donut only made during Lent). Now, my husband, daughter, and I make the trip up to Kramarczuk’s on a Saturday in December. We get our traditional smoked kielbasa, caraway Polish rye, Vienna bread, and of course a Kolachi or two for the next morning’s breakfast (a Polish Danish).

Christmas Eve always smells so good. To bring the German foods into our tradition, I make homemade spätzle (a noodle dish). The noodles are served with butter, and some people put cinnamon on theirs. While I am dropping the spätzle batter into boiling water, my husband is on the griddle making the kielbasa. Then the traditional pierogis are made. A pierogi is a type of dumpling that can have various fillings: potato, mushroom, prune, or apricot. I typically make my pierogi with potatoes. And what kind of Polish/German meal is it if it doesn’t have sauerkraut?! We found our favorite sauerkraut that isn’t too vinegary at the People’s Food Co-op! It is called Bubbies, and it is very good (coming from a Polish person who does not like sauerkraut).

When the food is finally ready, we assemble our plates full of kielbasa, pierogi, spätzle, and sauerkraut, and gather around the table. A strong tradition in our family is to go around the table, and have each person bring wishes for the new year.  My husband, daughter, and I hold hands and speak about what we are thankful for, and what we wish for the new year. On Christmas morning, we eat some more polish sausage with eggs and the cinnamon streusel coffee cake (with coffee of course).

While many things may be different this holiday season, we will still be celebrating with our favorite German/Polish dishes and traditions. Wishing all of you a Wesotych świat (“happy holidays” in Polish)!

Does your family make any traditional foods for the holidays? Share them in the comments!