• December 15, 2014
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“Polish Christmas Eve in Vilnius”

“It is not the first time I am at the Polish Christmas Eve in Vilnius organised thanks to the efforts of St. Moniuszko Polish Culture Centre in Lithuania, but this one is certainly exceptional”.

Without doubt special nature of this year Christmas Eve was the result of Antonina Skakowska’s careful organisation of the event, in the centre of which there was a reading of John Paul II’s poem “The Roman Triptych”. The poem was movingly presented by the actor from Toruń – Dariusz Bereski. With accompaniment of double bass and beautiful performance of psalms by Michał Hajduczeń they created a unique atmosphere of Christmas Eve – Eve that brings separated closer, connects the dead with the living and reunites those at odds” – said the priest and parson of St. Rafał’s church in Vilnius, Mirosław Grabowski.

While wishing everyone Merry Christmas, he emphasized that Christmas Eve table is the place which connects and reunites people. He reminded the gathered Gospel of St. Luke, in which there is a special place devoted to the shepherds who brought this great and joyous news of the birth. He wished everyone to become a “shepherd” of Good News by sharing with others.

This is only one part of that traditional and yet so unique evening, which the “Polish Christmas Eve in Vilnius” initiated 26 years ago is. Traditional and yet so different, thanks to its initiator. At the first time, it was a little bit more quite, not to allow the carols’ sound (before the rebirth of the country) to be taken by the hostile winds. It developed and every year it has been successively continued. With traditional Christmas Eve table, but almost very time with a new artistic programme.

Ms Apolonia knows how to surprise. She can find the artistic “pearls” – both local talents and artists from Poland and this year once again she invited also German artists. When it comes to Poland, this year representatives of the Motherland was Toruń. The town which, as the hostess of the evening emphasized, is not a random town as some years ago, when Stefan Batory University in Vilnius was closed, many professors continued their work in that very town. We also meet not to forget about the great people who lived and worked in Vilnius. After all, it is our town about which Stanisław Staszic writes: “If the light did not shined in Vilnius, it would die in all Poland”.

The programme of this year Christmas evening was a mixture of patriotic melodies to the words of Apolonia Skakowska’s poems – “Faithfulness” and “Prayer”, which were performed by “Grzegorzanie” band. There was a presentation of the poetry of Dariusz Bereski, the poet, the winner of the plebiscite “Master of polish Speech 2012” and the winner of the prestigious poetry contest Verba Sacra as well as of Krzysztof Szarszewski — both of whom, for many years, co-organise the campaign “Give a book for Polish school in Lithuania”. However, undeniably the most impressing part of the evening was the reading of “The Roman Triptych”, in which John Paul II opened boundless space of human liberty.

Marvellous meditations “on the threshold” of the Sistine Chapel are the object of admiration, true beauty and deep reflection. Actor, Dariusz Bereski, presented passages of that great piece, which was published in six languages in 2003.

The same day, the parishioners from St. Theresa and St. Rafał churches could listen to the whole “Roman Triptych” in the same form. And let us add a few words about the artistic programme of that evening, in which the Frąckiewicz family from Germany took part. Benedykt – a musician, pedagogue and director of choir “Benedictinus”, Polish orchestra form Germany and his talented wife, Róża, who presented a number of known and less known Polish songs, e.g. “It’s a strange world” (“Dziwny jest ten świat”) by Czesław Niemen, and others.

It is impossible to describe every performance. Certainly, everyone was extremely moved, be they those who was with us for the first time and those who visits us regularly since the first Christmas Eve 26 years ago.

When thanking for beautiful artistic emotions, Apolonia Skakowska gave everyone in the most important Centre award – the statue of its patron, Stanisław Moniuszko. Another nice touch was the fact that Pelagia Jaśkiewicz, the propagator of Polish culture in Święciańska region and retired teacher from Magun, was also handed in a statue. And at last, the culmination of the evening – the prayer, blessing and breaking the Christmas wafer with which Jesus Christ identified Himself.

Christmas wafer symbolising unity, mutual love and respect in a family. In that Polish family uniting schools’ headmasters, kindergartens’ directors, artistic organisations’ chiefs, poets, the media, everyone for whom the words in the Center’s invitation are important: “Friends who sit by the same table on Christmas Eve, will always stay together…”.

Translated by Aneta Gębska within the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.

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