This year is Nellie’s first year away from home. To make the most of the season, Nellie has embraced the Polish traditions and decked her halls! Her Christmas tree is covered in beautiful and colourful glass baubles, some covered in lace detailing. Garlands are draped on the tree instead of tinsel and a star on the top.

She celebrated St Nicholas’ day on the 6th of December and found a present in her shoe! She received a bag of her favourite peanuts and a new scarf for the cold weather. (She does have very big shoes!)

On Christmas Eve she will be fasting for most of the day. Known as “Wigilia” (Vee-ghee-lee-uh), Christmas Eve is a day for preparation. Nellie will clean from top to bottom and put on her best clothes. The most important meal of Christmas in Poland starts this evening, called Kolacja wigilijna, when the first star shines in the sky. She also left an empty seat at her table for an unexpected guest, “Niespodziewany Gość”. This is a tradition in Poland, as they believe that no one should be left hungry, (which Nellie hopes to conrinue once she returns home after her voyage). Some people leave the extra place to commemorate a loved one who has passed on.

The meal is made up of 12 dishes including “barszcz” which is a beetroot soup and is mandatory! The main dish is usually carp and other dishes include “Bigos” which is a cabbage and bacon dish, "makowiec" which is a poppy seed roll made of sweet yeast bread and "piernik" which is a moist cake with honey and gingerbreads. Before the meal begins, a wafer“Oplatek” is shared with the image of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, everyone breaks of a piece and shares their season’s greetings.

She is excited to try these new dishes, but also to open her presents earlier than she would here! In Poland they open their Christmas presents right after dinner. Presents are mostly brought by Santa Claus, but in some areas of Poland they are delivered by Grandfather Frost “Dziadek Mróz” or the Starman “Gwiazdor”.

Carols will be sung just before presents are opened. She asked Santa for a new pair of walking boots. Her journey has already taken a toll on the ones she has and she will need a good pair to make the trip all the way to Japan!

Nellie wishes everyone a Merry Christmas or in Polish “Wesołych Świąt” and a very happy and healthy New Year!