Monday 24 December (Christmas Eve) - Szczo To Za Prediwo (Traditional Polish)

CD Cover

Sung by the King's Singers, on the album "Christmas".

Today is for me about family traditions, which generally means something Polish - the Wigilia meal, starting when the first star appears in the evening sky on Christmas Eve (which we'll probably have to take as read, given the likely weather) is the beginning of Christmas proper. We have a cycle of Christmases here, and this year we're on the Isle of Wight with my in-laws, which means I get to indulge myself greatly in the 'festive traditions' department...and someone else has the washing up.

The evening begins with the sharing of opłatek, an unconsecrated communion-wafer type bread embossed with a seasonal picture, and best wishes for the coming year. Then the meal itself begins - a fish- and vegetable-based extravaganza traditionally running to a dozen courses, as befits a meal closing the penitential time of Advent, and opening the Christmas season.

To accompany thoughts of tradition, then, and as an apéritif to the feasting that is to come, is a traditional Polish carol.

Szczo to za prediwo, w switi nowyna
Szczo Maryja Diwa Syna rodila
A jak wona porodyla,
Todi wona powidala:
Susie! synu mij.

Josif staruszok w zolobi stoit?
Susowi Chrystowi peleny stroit?
A Maryja pelenaje,
do serdenka pryhortaje
Preczysta Diwa.
What a surprise, such news in the world,
That Mary the virgin gave birth to a son.
And when she gave birth,
she was filled with joy:
Jesus! My own dear son.

Joseph, the old man, stays close by her side,
Making a bed for Jesus, the Christchild.
Mary is swaddling him,
and holding him close,
Holy Virgin, Mother mild.