December 29 – Kulig in Poland

Posted December 29, 2013

After Christmas, when there is plenty of snow, aristocrats in Poland used to organize kulig, or sleigh rides. 

A sleigh ride party – cavalcades of horses pulling sleighs and sledges – went from one manor house to the next, with food and dancing at each house.

A modern version of kulig I read about involves horse-drawn sleigh rides in which the riders throw firecrackers as they ride, and everyone stops at a nice, snowy clearing where they can enjoy a fire, a hot meal, and dancing around the fire.

A final version of kulig is sort of halfway between the other two. A group of neighbors or friends choose a host family. While the hosts bake and cook and prepare a huge feast, everyone else travels to the hosts' house on horse-drawn sleighs (of course). They carry lanterns when the sleigh ride is a nighttime event. Often the kulig is an opportunity to wear costumes, and it is always an opportunity for merriment and hilarity!

Kulig can be held and enjoyed all winter—as long as there is plenty of snow!

A Polish Craft
  • Gwiazdy are eight-sided stars cut from paper. They look a lot like paper “snowflakes,” but the latter have only six sides. 

  • The Polish word for paper-cutting is wycinanki. Some of the traditional subjects of Christmas wycinanki include nativity scenes.

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