24 December 2006

Not a Carp in Sight

Today marks the beginning of the 3 day celebration that is Christmas in Poland. This is the day when everyone feasts on the mandatory 12 dishes, none of which contain meat, several of which contain carp. Very fresh carp. As in, we purchased it live at the market, brought it home in a plastic bag full of water, and let it swim around in the bath tub before we killed it for dinner.

I turned down 3 separate invitations to partake of said carp, in favor of holing up in my apartment and watching movies. I just wasn't in the mood to go through the effort required to turn down any particular food item in this country. Traditionally, you're supposed to take some of each of the 12 dishes on the table. I don't eat fish. This makes the traditional Polish Christmas dinner a bit of a challenge.

You see, Polish hospitality is a strange and wondrous thing. It's not sufficient to smile and say "No, thank you." Generally, it takes a minimum of 3 refusals for the message to get through. I guess it's something about the first 2 being politeness, and only at the 3rd one do the hosts realize you REALLY don't want any.

So I stayed home, ate chicken, and am ready for my 3rd movie of the evening. Of course, having turned down all those dinner invitations, I'll probably never get another one - karma's funny like that. But at least I won't have to eat any carp.


Bartosz said...

Our customs are more than strange for foreigners but we like it. Merry Christmas for You.

hanna said...

Eeeeee, I wouldn't call them strange, rather, interesting...? And, 'we' definitely doesn't mean all Poles, I could definitely do without carp on Christmas Eve and I actually did this year. Even though you could buy fresh (well, not actually live thank God) carp probably everywhere in Ireland (our local supermarket had it!!).
Wendy, I'm really impressed, and grateful: you're keeping my most interesting "news" up-to-date - THANKS! ;-)

Eric said...

I do the Mountain Dew splurge. Its not too difficult to get, but its not entirely easy (or cheap)

(coming to you from PoznaƄ, myself)

MariaLund said...

I used to have a problem with this aspect of Polish hospitality, too. I was born and raised in Poland, but in Poznan, where habits were German influenced (don't know if they still are) and where you asked guests only once, But the further east, the more times you are being asked to eat or drink and I squirmed having to refuse more than once and often ate something I did not like or shoukd not (I am a diabetic). On the other hand I learned too late that my guests from eastern Poland were hungry, because when they customarily refused something once, I never asked them again. :-(