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Passed down Polish family tradition


KULPMONT — Ever since he was a child, Marshall Mirarchi III remembers his family getting together for dinner every Sunday and at the start of Advent, lighting the first candle on their wreath.

Now 32-years-old, Mirarchi said his family’s celebration of Advent is something he now shares with his children. He said his mom buys his boys Advent calendars each year with a chocolate treat for each day leading up to Christmas. He said they also have a mischievous Elf on a Shelf who makes his way around the house every night until Christmas Day.

The weekly lighting of the Advent candles leads up to the Polish tradition of Wigilia. Mirarchi is Polish on his mother’s side. She began the traditional Christmas Eve dinner after she had gotten married.

During Wigilia, Polish ethnic foods are served like pierogies and halushkie as well as some seafood. No meat is

SUBMITTED PHOTO Pastor Karyn Fisher, of St. John’s UMC in Coal Township, shared a photo of the decorated church taken after the beginning of Advent in 2016. The tradition at St. John’s UMC is to set up the nativity scene and have a child place the baby Jesus inside the manger on Christmas Eve.

SUBMITTED PHOTO Pastor Karyn Fisher, of St. John’s UMC in Coal Township, shared a photo of the decorated church taken after the beginning of Advent in 2016. The tradition at St. John’s UMC is to set up the nativity scene and have a child place the baby Jesus inside the manger on Christmas Eve.

served at the dinner, he explained.

They begin their Wigilia tradition following 4:30 p.m. Christmas Eve Mass at Holy Angels Parish, Kulpmont. He said his family goes back to his parent’s house, where everyone breaks off a piece of a Polish Christmas wafer called the oplatek, similar to a church communion wafer. The oplatek is eaten before the start of dinner and is supposed to bring good luck throughout the next year.

“Christmas Eve, even as a kid, was almost looked forward to as much as Christmas day,” Mirarchi said. Now an adult, he said he looks forward to it more than Christmas day because it’s something “unique” his mom has always done.

“It’s something that’s really special. It’s bigger than me and my family; it’s something done for generations that’s really neat and different that I learned from my parents that they learned from their parents,” he said.