It’s still Christmas time at the Cuban-​​Polish household

Christmas Eve

Christmas time is spe­cial at our house­hold, as it is in most Christian homes. (We call ours the Cuban-​​Polish house­hold because daddy is Cuban and mommy is Polish. Original, huh?) There are a lot of dif­fer­ences between the ways the two cul­tures cel­e­brate Christmas but the thing that’s com­mon is that Christmas Eve is the Big Day, not Christmas Day. Christmas Eve is when we have the big meal and exchange presents. Christmas Day is for relax­ing in your PJs and snack­ing on leftovers.

Christmas tree in the process of being decorated.

Christmas tree in the process of being decorated

In Poland, they don’t dec­o­rate the tree before Christmas Eve but then keep it around until some time later. In mommy’s house, the tree stayed up until Three Kings’ Day (Epiphany) or January 6th. In grandma’s house, they kept it until February! So now you under­stand why we don’t really get into a Christmas mood before Christmas Eve but stay in it until early January.

Samson on ladder

Samson help­ing to dec­o­rate the tree

Cubans eat roast pig for Christmas Eve (they eat roast pig for all occa­sions.) in Poland, Christmas Eve in a fast day and so the meal is built around fish and veg­etable dishes. Poles also have the cus­tom of shar­ing com­mu­nion wafer with each other and wish­ing each other good things for the com­ing year. Under the table­cloth, they place a lit­tle bit of hay to remind them that  Christ’s first bed was a hum­ble manger. (Mommy gets all that stuff at a Polish church nearby, it’s all blessed and every­thing). And they set an extra place at the table for any unex­pected guests because they believe that no one should spend Christmas Eve alone and so all won­der­ers are invited into the house. Needless to say, they is always enough food for a whole crowd of extra guests!

The Case of the Missing Scales

decorated Christmas tree

Christmas tree decorated

A habit which I think must be strictly pagan and was intro­duced to mommy’s fam­ily by her grandfather’s sec­ond wife (whom mommy kindly called her aunt) is this: You wrap a scale from the fish you ate on Christmas Eve next to a coin, leave it under the tree for the night and then put it in your wal­let to make sure you have plenty of money in the com­ing year. Mommy makes lit­tle pack­ages of scales and pen­nies wrapped with tis­sue paper and scotch tape. I’m sorry to report that the Cuban-​​Polish house­hold is in for lean times accord­ing to this tra­di­tion because the scales dis­ap­peared from under the tree. We have not found the scales or the cul­prit. Maybe they are some­where around the house and the house will be rich, which would be OK by us. We are hop­ing they are not in anyone’s stom­ach, just wait­ing to obstruct and cause vet fees, thereby mak­ing us poorer.

Cats and presents

Frangi with presents

Frangi with presents

Well, what­ever will be, will be. In the mean­while, here are some pho­tos of us with the presents. These are the humans’ presents; ours were in a cab­i­net so we wouldn’t help our­selves to the cat­nip ahead of time.

Java and Samson with presents

Java and Samson with presents

You can see that that Samson is just look­ing for trou­ble. What do you think the chances are he knows exactly where those fish scales are? Pretty darn good, I would say. *fluffs tail.*

Merry Christmas Time and a Happy New Year to all! Purrrrrrrrrrrrrrs.



27 thoughts on “It’s still Christmas time at the Cuban-​​Polish household

  1. OMC sweetie — M and I just loved this post because we learned so much and really enjoyed your boo­ti­ful pic­tures. Java looks like he doesn’t miss any tricks at all. I bet he could prob­a­bly open the cup­board if he really wanted to. Maybe the fishie scales were just bat­ted around and you’ll find them under the sofa or a bed!

    • I’m so glad you enjoyed learn­ing about our cus­toms. Yes, we are still hold­ing out hope for the fish scales. Mommy put our gifts in a high cab­i­net and she’s hand­ing them out one at a time. Even Samson hasn’t man­aged to get in there — yet. Purrrrrrrrrrrrrrs

    • Yes, that Samson is a trou­ble­maker, all right. Yesterday he got his just deserts when he fell into the water after exam­in­ing the toi­let bowl a lit­tle too inten­sively, MOL. *Fluffs tail.*

      I hope that all your wishes come true in 2013. Purrrrrrrrrrrrrrs

  2. Wow, we had no idea about the scales. Samson, dood, pleez say you didn’t par­take! Money isn’t nommy — not even if there’s a scale taped to it!

    Those are cool tra­di­tions that we hadn’t ever heard about! Thanks for shar­ing them wif us!!

    • I think they are uniquely Polish tra­di­tions, we haven’t heard of any­one else doing things this way.

      We are also hop­ing that Samson just bat­ted the coins and scales around and they are under the fur­ni­ture some­where and not in his tummy. He’s act­ing fine at least 5 days after they dis­ap­peared (mommy’s not sure exactly when), so he prob­a­bly didn’t eat them.

      Happy New Year to you and your humans from all of us here at the Cuban-​​Polish house­hold. May all your wishes come true in 2013. Purrrrrrrrrrrrrrs.

  3. OMC, I’m so glad some­one else real­izes that Christmas STARTS on Christmas day! (or eve!) and doesnt end there! We hate see­ing Christmas trees at the curb before dark on Christmas day, what do they do, take them down the sec­ond they open their presents?? Sheesh!
    We never heard the 6th, Epiphany, called Three Kings Day! We know it as Little Christmas though.
    I would like to wish you a very merry 10th day of Christmas! And thank you for spread­ing the word that Christmas is longer than one day!

    • Mommy so agrees with you! It’s her pet peeve, to see peo­ple put up Christmas dec­o­ra­tions right after Thanksgiving and then take them down Dec 26th (or even the 25th, yikes!) Epiphany is the day the Three Wise Men (Kings) finally made their way to the manger and gave Jesus their gifts. Some peo­ple in Poland exchange gifts on that day as well. Maybe that’s why you call it Little Christmas.

      A merry 10th day of Christmas to you as well. Also a very happy New Year. Purrrrrrrrrrrrrrs.

  4. We don’t have much of a hol­i­day tra­di­tion at our house, so it was really nice to hear about yours! Yeah, around here, fish scales would very much be in dan­ger of get­ting eaten!

    • You are right about the fish scales. Mommy usu­ally spends Christmas at Grandma’s in NYC, where there are only polite cats, so she for­got about the furry men­aces around here. I’m glad you enjoyed read­ing about out tra­di­tions, the humans really enjoy them. Happy New Year. Purrrrrrrrrrrrrrs.

  5. Thank you for shar­ing your tra­di­tions with us. Being Chanukats, we don’t have any Christmas tra­di­tions. Well, we don’t really have any Chanukah tra­di­tions either. MOL

    I hope the scales turn up, and not in the lit­ter box. Happy New Year!

  6. Wow, these are really ter­rific sto­ries! When the Human was a girl (a l-​​o-​​n-​​g time ago!) her Irish/​Italian Catholic fam­ily had oys­ter stew every Christmas Eve (fast & absti­nence day back then). The Human did not care for oys­ter stew, which would not have been so tragic except that Christmas Eve is her BIRTHDAY so she was pretty unhappy, MOL!

    • Awwww, Spitty, tell your human mommy feels her pain. Mommy’s lucky to have been born in June but she’s always felt bad for those born close to Christmas. She thinks they get cheated out of a proper birth­day. Being made to eat some­thing you don’t like on your birth­day on top of any­thing else is adding insult to injury!

      The tra­di­tional Christmas Eve fish in Poland is carp, which mommy and her brother don’t care for (and which is hor­ri­ble bony, besides). They finally put their col­lec­tive foot down about ten years ago and now pre­pare either salmon or red snap­per for Christmas Eve. Some tra­di­tions should be adjusted to fit the peo­ple and the times. Purrrrrrrrrrrrrrs.

  7. Oh! This was just won­der­ful! I am sorry that this is the first time we have dropped by to visit, but we are so excited to see pic­tures of all you beau­ti­ful kit­ties and to learn about your human’s cul­tures!! Have a happy and blessed New Year! Purrs from the Zee/​Zoey gang

  8. A lovely Christmas Post! Thank you so much for remind­ing us all that the world is flled with tra­di­tions still!

    • Wow! Gracei, Ben, and I really enjoyed learn­ing about your Christmas cus­toms. As a for­mer teacher, learn­ing new things never gets old for me. Oh and how Samson reminds me of a cat I know well whose name begins with “B” and lives at my house — ha, ha. I think they would have a blast together — and spend a lot of time in time-​​out too.

    • Thank you, we love our tree. We real­ized at the last minute that mommy had given a lot of her orna­ments away and she had to make new ones (she loved it). Purrrrrrrrrrrrrrs.

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