How to say Merry Christmas in Poland
If you want to know how to say merry Christmas in Polish you came to the right place. I will give you not only the expression, but also transliteration and the meaning behind it all. I will also give my perspective, as an American living in Poland, and from the perspective of my wife, she is Polish and wrote the second part of this.
An American perspective of Xmas
Why do I prefer Christmas in Poland more than in the USA? I am an American born and raised but also Polish and live in Krakow. In the USA I was always stressed about gifts and shopping. However, in Poland I do not buy gifts. What, are you kidding?
It is a religious celebration more than a commercial celebration, where in the states I feel it as more a commercial holiday, traffic, crowds, endless holiday jingles and commercials and sales. Who likes that.
Imagine a world without a commercialized Christmas holiday, if you like the idea come to Poland. In fact, for gifts and games Poland has Santa Claus day on December 6th for kids. Christmas on the other hand is a peaceful religious holiday for singing and decorating the tree on the 24th. The ornaments and decor actually go up on Christmas eve.
Oh, one last thing, you can say Merry Christmas in Poland. In American you say happy holidays. There is a world of difference in the feel of these two holidays greetings.
The linguistics of a Polish Christmas
Linguistically speaking I feel it pretty hard to learn the Christmas greeting in Polish because of Polish pronunciation. English words are short. Polish words are long because they pronounce every single letter.
However, if you break down the symbols and transliteration and learn it piece by piece it will eventually roll off your tongue and you can use it in many situations, for about two months that is. In my mind this is a good investment in learning.
The phrase Merry Christmas in the Polish language
Wesolych Swiat, Bozego Narodzenia i Szczesliwego Nowego Roku
weh-sohl-ih shveeaht, Boh-zheh-go nah-roh-djehn-eeah ee shchehs-leev-ehgoh no-vegoh roh-koo
Maybe copy or print this and try to practice it until you have it down. It literally means, “joy to the world, birth of God, and a happy new year”.
You can just say Wesolych Swiat and this is enough.
Merry Christmas a Polish perspective
This part my wife Kasia wrote:
Christmas is the most important, meaningful and favourite Polish holiday. In Polish it is called “Boże Narodzenie” or “Święta Bożego Narodzenia”, which means Christmas Holiday or literally the holy birth. It is totally dedicated to religion, tradition and family. Święta Bożego Narodzenia are in some ways similar to American Thanksgiving, when the whole family and friends meet to celebrate and spend time together.
The holiday last 3 days. Is started with the Christmas Eve which is called “Wigilia” or sometimes “Gwiazdka”. Wigilia is a very special time and it has unique atmosphere of warmth, when you feel like you are united with the whole world and all good souls. For me it is a very moving and joyful day and I’m always looking forward to it. Wigilia is celebrated December 24th, when the days are short and the evening comes fast, but although it is cold and dark outside. After Christmas the days are getting longer, and the amount of daylight increases, which has an additional impact on this celebration and its meaning – the Christ was born and brought God’s light and the hope to the world.
Wigilia or Christmas eve
Wigilia in Poland is celebrated with a traditional dinner, served with 12 dishes, one for each month. The dinner starts when the first star appears in the sky and that is a symbol of the Star of Bethlehem. In polish tradition people are sharing wafer and say Christmas wishings to each other. After that they eat the dinner together. The dinner table is decorated with a white cloth, under which people put a hand full of hay. On the table there is a one extra table set for an unexpected guest. The food served during Wigilia doesn’t contain meat.
The most popular Polish dishes are:
- borsh whit little dumplings stuffed with mushrooms, in polish it is “barszcz z uszkami”, – fish (ryba) – fried, served as soup or in a gelatin,
- cabbage with pea, in polish “kapusta z grochem”,
- kompot – a drink made from bolied fruits (usually dry plumes).
- Besides that there are served pie with mushrooms, pasta with poppy (kluski z makiem) and for dessert: “makowiec” – which is a poppy-seed cake, “sernik” – cheese-cake, or “kutia” – a sweet cake, popular in eastern part of the country, made with wheat and honey with nuts and raisens.
After dinner there is time for “kolędy” – Polish Christmas carols.
The evening ends at midnight with a special mass called “Pasterka”, from the word “pasterz” – English ‘shepard’, which refers to shepards preyers. Pasterka also begins Christmas Day, but it is a chalange to stay up till the mass, especially after such fulfilling dinner.
The main thing on Christmas Day is a mass, and going to church.
The day is extraordinary and people spend it on celebrating and being together with a family and friends. Except for life-saving types of jobs, nobody goes to work this day, all the shops are closed.
How to say “Merry Christmas” in Polish? Here you find greetings and a few expressions, that will be useful:
- Merry Christmas – Wesołych Świąt Bożego Narodzenia, the short version of this is simply – Wesołych Świąt (Happy Holiday) and you can say it while sharing the wafer, but also in your workplace, shop, etc.
- Other wishes you can say during Wigilia (wafer sharing):
- All the best – Wszystkiego najlepszego
- God’s blessing – Błogosławieństwa Bożego
- Lots of health – Dużo zdrowia – this is a very poplular fraze, and polish people say it with other ocasions (birthday, name’s day),
- Lots of love – Dużo miłości
- Lots of happiness – Dużo szczęścia,
- All kind of prosperity – Wszelkiej pomyślności
- Be fulfilled with your family – Zadowolenia z rodziny
- Dedicated friends – Oddanych przyjaciół
- People’s kindness – Ludzkiej życzliwości
- Make your dreams come truth – Spełnienia marzeń
- Anything you wish for – Wszystkiego czego sobie życzysz
- Cool presents – Fajnych prezentów
If you know the other person well, you can say something personal, that you think they may wish for, but with this list you are ready to celebrate Wigilia in Poland.
Let me know if you are Polish or have Polish roots and your experiences or stories regarding the Christmas tradition, what do you remember in your home?
11 thoughts on “Merry Christmas in Polish”
i love the slavic christmas traditions. i am learning russian and many other languages but i find the traditions are interesting as they celebrate christmas on january 7 but new years is a big holiday as during ussr chirstmas was forbidden but luckily some kept it alive. i love this time of year as it is so beautiful.
Sounds just what I’m looking for in Christmas. Enough with this santa clause buy this buy that holiday.
Actually, андрей, Polish Christmas is celebrated on the 25th, as Poland is almost entirely Roman Catholic.
I’m learning Russian too. What other languages are you learning?
The main celebration is on the 24th of December as Jesus was born sometime in the night. But Poles of course go to church on the 25th and often 26th. I am learning Ukrainian as well as Polish and a little Chinese. But right now I want to bring my Polish language skills to the next level.
Ok, Polish Christmas is celebrated on the 25th but most import is Christmas Eve.
Maybe it’s different areas, but I live in Warsaw and have friends all over. Poles typically do celebrate with Wigilia on December 24. Many families still decorate their trees on that day while the whole family is there too. They do go to church on Christmas Day.
actually the xmas gretting ” wesołych świąt …” (-as u can see there r sm Polish letters , without them it looks like “wesoLych SwiAt…”) doesnt mean ‘joy to the world’. the word “world” = świat (swiat) , bt the word ‘świąt’ (also ‘swiat’ without polish letters) means holidays (the word ‘święta’ (swieta) changed by declension –> I. święta – II. świąt …)
theres nothing about World 😉
wesołych świąt = happy holidays, bt in more ‘holy’ meaning 😉
Have you noticed that hint of melancholy about Polish Christmas? It’s because people think a lot about their family, future, people who should be there but for some reason are not, and life in general. I don’t think it’s a bad thing though.
Merry if it does mean peace, looking for humanity and prefers it to prevail over the belief, the only way to coexist in this small planet.
All those dishes sounds really good but not for kids. because of that there is a tradition in my regin that everybody has to try at least 12 dishes or there won’t be any christmas gift next year.
I have wonderful memories of Wigilia at my aunt’s house when I was a child. The borscht with sour cream, or sometimes sauerkraut soup, the fish, poppyseed cake, and Oplatek. The whole family was together. Wish I could go back in time.