Christmas celebrations, as they appeared in the Latin calendar, were strictly connected with the turning of the solar year at the winter solstice, which is when the day wanes to its shortest ebb and the night waxes longest. This symbolic fight between day and night, light and darkness, and life and death was deeply inscribed in the Christmas customs of the Polish people. This lecture will present a variety of old Polish Christmas traditions and will reveal their different roots and meanings. We will also discuss the symbolism of old Polish Christmas carols. Some of them will be presented to the public during our meeting.

Anna Niedźwiedź is a cultural anthropologist who is the author of articles and books concerning the phenomenon of Polish popular Catholicism. Her other research deals with the symbolic dimension of urban space and visual anthropology. Since 2009 she has been conducting ethnographic field research in Ghana, focused on popular and lived religion in the context of contemporary changes of African societies. She is also a singer who works with Polish and European early music traditions, contemporary music, and traditional and modern African music.