Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Polish Christmas is a time for family, not religion


Contrary to the stereotype, an opinion poll reveals that the festive season is a time where family and traditions take precedence over the religious nature of Christmas in Poland.

The poll by CBOS finds that only 5 percent of Poles say that religious rituals give them most joy at Christmas, whereas 71 percent say that family gatherings give them most satisfaction.

Churches do fill up at Christmas time, with midnight mass being an important part of the traditions of this time of year. But the poll shows that the stereotype of Poles as first and foremost a religious people is wide of the mark.

The poll also reveals that there is a small minority for whom Scrooge is a role model. Three percent told the pollsters that they feel no joy or satisfaction at all from the Christmas holidays. Bargh! Humbug!

41 comments:

geez said...

Family is not a part of religion?

Does religion have to "satisfy"?

Are Poles first and foremost not a religious people?

And since when are opinion polls arbeiters of truth?

Anonymous said...

IMHO, religion is more part of family, not vice versa. And religion obviously does have to "satisfy" something, otherwise people wouldn't be "religious" in the organised sense. And I think the Polish stereotype is that they are "first and foremost a religious people". Whether that stereotype is true remains to be seen, but it still is the stereotype.
"And since when are opinion polls arbeiters of truth?" Well, again IMHO Beatroot is not saying this is gospel, but just what an opinion poll says. I didn't get anything from this that says it's 100% true.

Just a thought.

Oliver McCarthy said...

Religion is part of "family"? That's weird - because the "human right" to "private and family life" is nowadays often invoked specifically to undermine religion and morality.

As for what comes "first", it's a nonsensical question. Speaking for myself, I go to church on Xmas Day before I even see my family, but that's because I'm a hardliner and they were there the night before (as was I) and they normally prefer a lie-in on the day itself to bouncing back off to Mass again after three hours' sleep.

Or again, yes, Christmas is a time for remembering the things that really matter - Church, country and family. But the Church gets only a few hours, in fact, the Queen gets precisely ten minutes, and the rest of the day (including meals, presents, watching TV) goes to my family. So of course Christmas is a time for the family! Why (and where) would it not be?

geez said...

anon wrote: "religion obviously does have to "satisfy" something"

ISTM even in the materialist sense, there can be a big difference between:

1. To gratify the need, desire, or expectation of.

2. To fulfill (a need or desire).

beatroot said...

Interesting discussion,as I had hoped.

And welcome to the new people - although 'anons' get me confused. If I had a wish for the New Year it would be that anons gave themselves a little name.

Geez - equating family with religion is spurious, at best.

As for how people perceive christmas. Take the 12 dishes that are on the table here for Wigilia - or the xmas dinner for the not in the know about Polish things - this obviously comes from biblical background. But it - as has Christmas - become detatched from that meaning and now exists as itself. Christmas is a secular ritual far more than a religious one. And that includes mending and strengthening family ties and other relationships.

I don't think that is a radical thing to say.

As for opinion polls - they give insights as no other social indicator can do. We simply can;t 'know' what a 'society' thinks without them. And if they were soooo wring then companies, politicians etc would not invest the billions of dollars every year in them.

beatroot said...

Actually, Oliver I do know as he is a politically conservative who is from the same group as the Umbrella blog. Merry Christmas Oliver and his knoll.

geez said...

Separating family from religion is even spuriouser. At least in those cases where the family lays some claim to being religious.

Why isn't it religious to mend family ties especially in the context of a religious tradition and professed beliefs?

Certainly you can play enact Wigilia without all the hassle of believing in its religious foundations. And if that's the way you go with it, that's fine with me and I'm actually glad you do that much. It'll get you back and/on the right track eventually.

As for most opionion polls, most obscure more than they enlighten. Especially when so-called experts and spinmeisters project their interpretations into the mix.

beatroot said...

People only get sniffy about opinion polls when they are confronted by results they don't like.

Why isn't it religious to mend family ties especially in the context of a religious tradition and professed beliefs?

Families were around before religion and they will around after religion. There is nothing instrinsically (hhdhdhdhd) religious about a family. Or even what form that family takes.

Brad Zimmerman said...

Midnight mass is popular, indeed: as we walked past the church, it was standing-room only. People were lined up outside, listening to the proceedings via loud speakers.

The local pub at 11:30 was similarly packed with a fair fight to get to a point where you could even order a drink. By about 1am half the crowd had cleared.

All in all, the church had the lion's share of the crowd so I don't think they need to worry for at least another 20-30 years when kids of today no longer need to (or feel the need to) lie about where they're going.

geez said...

Too often questions are constructed and posed in a manner skewed to make a point the questioner(s) want to make. Or intrerpreted and spun. Somebody else could have constructed, posed, and interpreted/spun a similar questionaire that "proves" the exact opposite point about religiousity in Poland or wherever.

I don't think the "what came first" argument really helps here. Or maybe it does. If we get into the domain of asking where and when was the first family... and if there was an individual before he or she coupled and reproduced, I spoze religion could have come first, heh?

beatroot said...

So, what ya sayin? That the first family was Adam, Eve, and the asp?

Geez...don't do that to me...

Opinion polls. I studied these bastards for 5 years...major part of me education, innit?...and the art of a good survey is elliminating the factors you talk about. Getting bad results is not in the interests of the customer who paid for the poll, and so is not in the interest of the company, researcher etc...

michael farris said...

IME (yes, ymmv) Catholicism in Poland is very broad but also pretty shallow. Most people just don't think much about religion or spiritual or doctrinal issues.

Poles are, however, intensely political (never more so than when they try to deny it) and the strongest expressions of catholicism here invariably get tied up in politics, whether for good (anti-communism) or bad (Radio Maryja). There's just no strong tradition of being catholic for the sake of being catholic.


As for Christmas in Poland. AFAIC it begins (seriously) with wigilia and ends with midnight mass, that is, it's all about Christmas eve.
From my pov as an American there's nothing very Christmasy at all about the 25th and 26th which are more about socializing (more family oriented on the 25th and more social the 26th).

While non-Polish people may find many traditional wigilia foods (fried carp, various herring dishes) to be off-putting, the christmas wafer (opłatek) ritual where the participants simultaneously reconcile their differences and bless each other is a wonderful experience and eminently worthy of export and emulation.

michael farris said...

"the "human right" to "private and family life" is nowadays often invoked specifically to undermine religion and morality"

????? care to explain?

The Pagan Temple said...

Family is important to religion in the same way family is important to so many other things in society. The family provides stability, therefore religions encourage strong families, because a strong family provides them in turn a way in to strengthening their hold on society. The "get 'em while they're young" approach.

A man and woman with a marriage and a family by and large makes their own family their number one priority. Therefore, any group, such as a church, that portrays themselves as looking out for the best interests of that family, makes themselves indispensable to a point, so the people looking out for their families will turn to them for support and comfort.

In turn, they teach their children and raise them in such a way the church suggests is the proper way to do so, which is meant to insure when the child becomes adult, he or she will carry on that tradition of support and dependence on the church.

That's why there is such a disconnect and feud between religions and science, which in my country at least is fought out in the arena of public education. Science tends to dissolve the veil of mystery that made people so dependent on the church in the past, in part by way of belief in the literal interpretation of mythologies. It's a struggle for control, and the church has lost a great deal of ground, and finds itself having to adjust and adapt, while science trudges on.

Yet, science can not replace certain elements of religion, and so religion holds on to a point, and the family is one of it's strongest bulwarks of defense and control.

opamp said...

[...]

The archeological evidence available suggests that the Christmas holiday was a celebration in honor of a god named Santa Claus (see illustration on the right). The recovered artificacts related to this deity are among the most numerous human artifacts of religious purpose. What is more, there is a striking resemblance between all of them; the uniformity of the description of Santa Claus in human iconography is unprecedented. This has led some researchers to suggest that Santa Claus was in fact a central deity in the human religious system (which, to this day, still remains for the best part mysterious).

There is however little doubt, that Santa Claus was a god of commerce. This is supported by the direct archeological evidence. The best known example of it is the northern part of Site 897: a bazaar, ornamented with numerous figures of Santa Claus of differing sizes. Another confirmation comes from the recently translated Document 46, which references Santa Claus, while discusing the impact of ritual Christmas shopping on the North American economy.

It must be noted, for the benefit of the student, that a small group of scientists does not agree with the prevailing consensus. They believe that Christmas derives its name from a lesser known deity, known as Christ, or Jesus, and was originally a holiday dedicated to celebrating the birth of said deity. (The paradox of the birth of a deity, which is by definition immortal, is not addressed).

This group bases their findings on on unverified translations of written documents recovered in Central Europe. They further claim that in the 20th century and later Christmas was misappropriated for the secular purposes of boosting the trade. Their view is however viewed as mostly unsubstantiated and thus not widely accepted.

[...]

michael farris said...

Another difference between American and Polish Christmas - Santa Claus (Święty Mikołaj in Polish).

He arrives in Poland on Dec. 6 with presents for kids but keeps a low profile thereafter and there's no local idea of him brining presents on Christmas Eve (which revolves around spotting the first star in the sky).

beatroot said...

Isn't Christ's Mass a festival appropriated from pagans? It was established well before the BC/AD thing?

geez said...

No, I'm not talking about two individuals named Adam and Eve. I'm not some literal Biblical fundamentalist. Give me a little more credit and respect than that, heh?

And you really endorse the methodology in that survey, BR? And you weren't just jerking us around with that headline? GDon't do that to me, heh BR? Yea, getting "bad" results is not in the interest of the guy paying for the survey. Well, yea, if you're taking money from Exxon, tobacco companies, et. al., you certainly don't want to give them "bad" survey results.

And why do you frame religiosity as being all about spending time and more time and still more time being bleatingly ritualistic in a church setting?

I also wonder about the insistence on a feud between religion and science. I'm sure the majority of religious folk have no feud with science. ISTM that only fundamentalists, religious and secular, have that problem.

And of course, religious institutions have to adjust and adapt. It's when they don't that they run into problems. When they start selling out to Exxon and the tobacco companies, though, that's when I'll call it quits.

Renegade Eye said...

My friend told me, he had an argument with his Unitarian wife, about how to explain Santa to their five year old son. He is being raised, should I say ecumenically.

opamp said...

Opinion polls. I studied these bastards for 5 years...

That's a really bad testimony for your school.

The fun part is that the poll was (apparently -- as the exact question is not given in the source) about what gives people most joy during Christmas. Of course people find time with their family more joyful than going to the church. This is a no-brainer. You don't go to church to have fun.

So, how you derive from this that for Poles Christmas has little religious meaning is beyond me.

beakerkin said...

Beatroot

This post demonstrates your need to move beyond the mindless salons of Europe. The poll itself had asked a questionthat was idiotic. My younger brother an actual clergyman would have answered family first.

Most of us value our families first and foremost. The exception are the souless powermad types associated with disgusting utopian political movements like Trotskyism, Nazism, Jihadism, Racial Power Nuts and so forth.

We have seen societies where children rat out there parents, husbands rat out their wives. Even Ren's favorite Jews, orphaned their kids for a disgusting cause of Stalinism. Julius and Ethel Rosenberg served as Commie icons for decades in the USA.

The roots of this madness are mental illness, lack of morality, general stupidity, alienation, imagined elitism and envy. All things must be sacraficed for the case. Individualism, family and logic get tossed out the window for fealty to the cause.

It is time to leave the salons and
talk with regular people. The notion that family is more important than theology even amongst the religious should not be a surprise to anyone, other than those who are detached from reality
itself.

geez said...

It really cracks me up that a guy can write something like the italicized below and be a supporter of a presidential candidate who is a proven three time philanderer (who used public dollars to keep it on the QT):

Most of us value our families first and foremost. The exception are the souless powermad types...

Again, on how Reagan conservatives in America view Ghouliani, see the cover story at:

http://www.amconmag.com/

Anonymous said...

Op wrote: You don't go to church to have fun.

Well, I'll agree that most people who go to Mass don't view it as fun or joyeous, except maybe at Christmas and Easter.

But church is more than Mass although the Mass is the devotional, ritualistic cornerstone and basis of it all.

I think and believe, as per one of my definitional posts above, Mass and Communion fulfills whereas other church and other secular activities can gratify.

beatroot said...

Well, I'll agree that most people who go to Mass don't view it as fun or joyeous,

OK, forget the fun, but a mass giving thanks for the birth of the Son of God not 'joyous'? Wow, no wonder the catholic church is leaking members like the Titantic!

luridtraversal said...

Come on Geez...we all know that article was written by a Communist!!!

geez said...

Well, I did say except for Christmas and Easter.

Even then, we're still going through a reenactment of the guy getting persecuted, tortured, crucified, dying, and -- for joy --being resurrected and providing for our salvation. So there's some jolliness after a lot of really somber stuff.

And the somberness gets pretty tough to endure when the music sucks. I used to go to a church where the organist reminded me of Dracula. And most priests can't deliver a decent sermon if their lives depended on it. Also, I've never been big on droning and bleating and dragging the whole thing out in time and to ridiculous extremes of pomposity.

I think the RC Church is losing members for a lot of reasons. In the US, the churches that are gaining the most members are those evangelical denominations that feature giant TV screens where the worshippers can see themselves and even better ... celebrities of sorts.... and these churches are usually located in big shopping mall environs where there's lotsa parking. Maximum entertainment and convenience value. The less strain, the better. All the joy, none of the suffering.

So maybe the problem is what's happened to the way more and more people look at religion.

So, of course, in these times, the RC Church is going to have difficulty keeping folks engaged when the Mass is essentially the same thing over and over.

And there is more nonsense and bad stuff but I still consider myself RC. Then again, some folks might read what I just wrote and want to see me excommunicated. Oh well.

jannowak57 said...

Communism and organized religion i.e. Catholism are the same thing, communism was not an ordinary political ideology but rather treated by it’s followers in the same way as one adheres to a religion.

Communism perished because it was incapable of delivering on its promise of a paradise on earth. Catholicism was more careful and limited the promise to the after life, no-ones comeback with a warranty call.

The poll results make complete sense, as Poles are not that intense when it comes to religion, following tradition and habit is not the same as religious fervour. Catholism is identified with being Polish and inseparably linked with national identity thus the basis of church’s political strength.

The greatest treat to Catholism will be the steady improvement of living standards in Poland, which will see church attendance drop proportionately as a function of increased affluence.

YouNotSneaky! said...

"Another difference between American and Polish Christmas - Santa Claus (Święty Mikołaj in Polish).

He arrives in Poland on Dec. 6 with presents for kids but keeps a low profile thereafter and there's no local idea of him brining presents on Christmas Eve (which revolves around spotting the first star in the sky)."

But it's St. Nick's angels that bring you the gifts on Christmas Eve. (During the PRL days there was some talk of "Father Winter").

beatroot said...

And the somberness gets pretty tough to endure when the music sucks. I used to go to a church where the organist reminded me of Dracula.

I would love to do a 'comment of the year' award. But I am too lazy. One of my nominations, however, would be that one, Geez. It has a poetry about it!

beatroot said...

Jan -
The greatest treat to Catholism will be the steady improvement of living standards in Poland, which will see church attendance drop proportionately as a function of increased affluence.


That is a kind of secularization thesis and it does work in most cases...except the tricky problem of some parts of the US...

It also ignores the weird turn to holistic medicine and thinking about the planet as GAIA or whatever in advanced economies. This is a psuedo-religion and is a symptom of not a backward society/economy, but an advanced one.

I think that is worrysome.

geez said...

I think I mighta stole those lines from a Doors song...

beakerkin said...

Lurid

When are you going to come out of the Bolshevik closet?

Geez

Has Beatroot created a special Ed section for you? Resume playing with crayons in the Beatroot moron section.

geez said...

Even funnier coming from BinkyKing, given his support for Ghouliani, than his other quip I previously noted above:

"We have seen societies where ... husbands rat out their wives"

"The roots of this madness are mental illness, lack of morality, general stupidity, alienation, imagined elitism and envy. All things must be sacraficed (sic) for the case (sic)."

RUDY IN 08!

beatroot said...

Has Beatroot created a special Ed section for you? Resume playing with crayons in the Beatroot moron section.

Beak. Quite frankly, you are a bit of an arsehole, arn't you?

Anonymous said...

Happy New Year Beatroot!

Keep posting:-)

Is x

beakerkin said...

Beatroot

It seems like you are quite the expert in assholes. Your tone and posts show contempt for the people you live amongst. As an asshole yourself you are a certified expert.

Bring more chimps Lurid and Geez might have one brain between them.
Keep Lurid in Poland as we allready have a plethora of mediocre far left dimwits in our educational system.

Anonymous said...

Sorry about the anonymous comment but I do have to say that I have been reading this blog for a while and that the Beatroot shows an amazing amount of respect for Poland and its people, as well as responding patiently and without derision to even the most forceful and provocative comments- more patience than I've been able to show my fellow countrymen/women.

Anonymous said...

Sorry about the anonymous comment but I do have to say that I have been reading this blog for a while and that the Beatroot shows an amazing amount of respect for Poland and its people, as well as responding patiently and without derision to even the most forceful and provocative comments- more patience than I've been able to show my fellow countrymen/women.

beatroot said...

Those are very nice comments indeed, and cheers!

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