Christmas Eve Without Borders – Wigilia bez Granic (Unofficial translation)
Type of Information
Instytut Myśli Schumana
Ryszard Krzyżkowski (Login to send email)
Contact Person Function
Vice President at Schuman Thought Institute; Project Coordinator
Christmas Eve Without Borders allows Polish families and foreign residents to celebrate Christmas Eve together. The project finds Polish families who want to invite foreign residents in Poland for Christmas Eve supper in their homes and matches them with foreign residents who want to accept such invitations. The celebrations follow Polish traditions, which gives newcomers the opportunity to learn about Polish Christmas customs.
Issue/Challenge and Goal/Assumption
While the number of foreign residents in Poland has grown quickly in recent years, newcomers and native Poles may not always have the opportunity to get to know each other socially.
The overall aim of this project is to unite people—Polish families and foreign residents—in a spirit of solidarity and peace between nations, in accordance with the philosophy of Robert Schuman, one of the architects of the European Union. The project’s more specific aim is to connect Polish families and foreign residents who want to celebrate Christmas Eve together, which is one of the most important days of the year in Polish culture. During these meetings newcomers and foreign residents can broaden their knowledge about Polish culture, traditions, and Catholicism, while Poles can learn about other cultures. Moreover, all participants have an opportunity to make new friends.
How does it work
Participants are Polish families who want to invite foreign residents for Christmas Eve supper in their home and foreign residents who want to take part in these Christmas Eve celebrations. Those who wish to participate can do so by registering online. Volunteers then connect Polish families with foreign residents, based on their responses to the online questionnaire (expectations, requirements, etc.).
The participants first meet before Christmas Eve in order to get to know each other. Then they share a Christmas Eve supper on 24 December. The Christmas Eve supper follows Polish traditions; participants share a special wafer when exchanging Christmas greetings, sing Christmas carols, and read from the (Christian) Bible. For foreign participants, this provides an opportunity to familiarise themselves with Polish customs and the Catholic religion.
After Christmas, participants are invited to meet regularly in so-called ‘Schuman groups’, which bring together foreigners and Poles.
In the first edition of the project in 2016, several hundred Polish and foreign participants took part in the project. In 2018, the number was over 10,000. It is not possible to determine the total number of participants, as not everyone registers through the Schuman Thought Institute’s website.
In many cases, friendships made at the Christmas dinner table have survived and continue to be developed.
Evaluation was done informally through feedback emails from project participants.
Who will benefit?
The project directly benefits its participants, who can connect with each other and learn about other cultures, traditions, and religions. Indirectly, the project benefits society at large because it helps change the mindset about other groups and cultures.
Source of funding and Resources used
Funding comes from donations made by private persons and institutions. Financial resources are mainly needed to create posters, leaflets, etc.
The project also relies on volunteers in different cities who connect Polish families with foreign residents.