- December 17, 2012
The Christmas Eve of the Great Family of Poles
The Christmas wafer sharing is an ideal opportunity for reconciliation. The Christmas wafer symbolizes the bond, peace and kindness. Although it is thin and fragile, it wields an enormous power for uniting people.
Traditionally, a day before Christmas the great family of Poles met in the House of Polish Culture in Vilnius. These were the Poles living in Lithuania and Macierz.
The tradition of wafer sharing in the Association of Poles in Lithuania begun in 2003 and has continued ever since. Friends gather in the House a day before Christmas to share a wafer, the special symbol. It is a persisting belief that people who share a wafer on this exact day, also share bread willingly during the next year. This year’s meeting, inaugurated with the performance of a Christmas carol “Bóg się rodzi” by a Polish folk band “Wilenka”, was of particular importance for the Polish community. The passing year was really special.
For the first time, EAPL achieved a remarkable success in the elections to the Seimas: eight politicians of the party in the government, the Polish minister and a few Polish Vice-Ministers, the party’s own fraction. This feat was not a piece of cake and would not be possible without the continuous work of many people.
Michal Mackevič, a politician and the Chairman of the Association of Poles in Lithuania, said the following in his inaugural speech: “I am glad to see an abundance of Polish organizations operating in Lithuania whose representatives are present here today. These are the Chairmen of Associations in Klaipėda, Šilutė, Liaudė, Zarasai, Molėtai, Visaginas, Kaunas, Trakai, Šalčininkai and many other cities in Lithuania. He added: “When the new year approaches, we tend to summarize the work we have done in a given year. Indeed, the year 2012 was extraordinary for the Association of Poles in Lithuania whose branches have organized over 120 events during that time. Moreover, EAPL has unprecedentedly entered into the government, into the ruling coalition. The actions of Valdemar Tomaševski, the EAPL leader and the European Parliament member, were the key to this success.
Valdemar Tomaševski thanked everybody gathered and celebrated the achievement: “The inevitable happed. We’ve strived for this for over 20 years. Needless to say, the fact that our plan will be realized gives us grounds for tremendous satisfaction. What counts are not the posts in the government, but the satisfaction of voters. I would like to express my deep gratitude for the support of the nationals from Macierz and for the God in particular.”
The politician acknowledged the presence of the priests: Fr. Dariusz Stańczyk and Fr. Wojciech Górlicki. Additionally, he mentioned Fr. Józef Obrembski, the much regretted prelate who united the Poles of the Vilnius region for years.
Many honorable guests from Poland took part in this year’s meeting, namely Marek Konopka, the Polish senator; Longin Komołowski, the Chairman of Association “Polish Community” and Krzysztof Łachmański, a secretary of the aforementioned association. The following persons also participated in the meeting: Janusz Skolimowski, the ambassador of Poland in Vilnius; Agnieszka Śnieżko, a consul; Jarosław Niewierowicz, the Minister of Energy of Lithuania; Czesław Okińczyc, the signer of the Act of Independence of Lithuania; Maria Rekść, the Vilnius mayor; Zdzisław Palewicz, the Šalčininkai mayor and many other honorable guests.
“I have tried to attend this meeting every year for the past three years, ever since I was elected the Chairman of the Association”—Longin Komołowski said—“I need to be here for two reasons: I am driven by the sentiment for my roots and the need to find myself in the company of my great Polish family at this time of the year. You have notched up an outstanding victory; the victory of you all and especially of the two persons: Valdemar Tomaševski and Michal Mackevič. However, I am perfectly aware that it is easier to emerge victorious than to remain as such.”
Janusz Skolimowski, the ambassador of Poland in Lithuania acknowledged the amount of work done by the Association’s branches. “The greatest success is your unity,” stressed the speaker. As usual, an artistic part of the evening followed an official one. The Polish folk band, “Wilenka”, performed the well- and less-known Christmas carols. The element of surprise was also present.
Maciej Prażmo—from Nidzica in the Olsztyńskie Region—a coordinator of the action “The package for the Polish veteran,” presented the Association Chairman with a red and white hat. “I could not miss that for the world. My family comes from the Vilnius region and therefore I am delighted to share the Christmas wafer with my nationals,” he said.
The bread—the wafer, actually—was carried by junior members of “Wilenka” on the wooden carts inlaid with little hay. The most significant part started with the Luke-Acts read by Fr. Wojciech Górlicki who also said: “The words spoken today were not uttered only in the spirit of Christmas. I believe the Christ is present in our homes, families and community. He gives us strength and power that I wish for each and every one of us to have… .”
Then there was the time for the wafer sharing and wishes. How many wishes were given on December, 15th in a decorated room of the House of Polish Culture in Vilnius? Thousands probably…. Because the wishes were also passed at the table laid with fasting traditional dishes; the special dishes served only one time in the year.
Tłumaczenie Karolina Jasińska w ramach praktyk w Europejskiej Fundacji Praw Człowieka, www.efhr.eu. Translated by Karolina Jasińska the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.