Sutton Histories
Polish Christmas in Sutton in the 1930s - 40s


Stacia Chase was born in rural Grafton. She moved to Worcester around age 5, and then moved to Sutton in high school. She stayed in Sutton until she graduated and went to Becker College, in Worcester, and then married. She now lives in Sutton, in the Wilder House


> [celebrating the night before] This is what Polish people do at Christmas?

Right. They don't celebrate Christmas so much as the night before. And it's like she [Glenadine] was saying, before Christmas, Advent how they go along, they eat and everything else. One thing I remember now is when they send me the - it's like communion - I always got a package from my aunts in Poland, and you went around and offered everyone the 'x kolenda'. And I didn't know what I thought [it meant]. Now 'kolenda' means a song, they sing a lot. 'x kolenda' is the day of forgiveness and blessing and love and that's what you're giving it for. Usually they send it out to Polish people all over the world, to their relatives. and that means they're all together. Then they're so fond of their animasl because they help them work that they crush some in their food the night before Christmas but they will NOT give any to the horses because the horses didn't keep Jesus warm when he was born.

They can't make any noise, they get up very early Christmas day, because they have all this baking to do and you can't even drop anything on the floor because the bread might fall in the oven. No arguing.

...

It's different today - before, you weren't allowed to eat meat on Fridays. So there were noodles, there was borscht, all the things that didn't have meat in it, or fat.

>What did you do when you were 5 or 6 years old?

When I was 5 years old my father and uncle lived in Farnsville and started a bakery. They used to make a lot of moonshine in those days and they used to stuff it in the bread. They decided they were going to come together and start a market on Lafayette Street [in Worcester]. We moved into this apartment on Worth street. To this day I'm terrified of traffic. We came from the country, where there were horses, and buggies, and everything is quiet.

Then the depression came [1929], people couldn't pay their bills, we lost the buildings, and my father decided to move us to Sutton. ... Then I turned 19, met my husband, and we moved to Worcester.

What was Christmas like for you when you were 5 or 6 years old?

All I remember is my mother always dressed the three daughters up like dolls, she would be sewing late in the night, we'd go into school with big bows in our hair. I'd get into class and the teacher would send us into other classes to show our clothes off. So things were really good until the deprssion coming on but I don't remember Christmas, how we celebrated Christmas. All I remember is my mother looking in, three of us girls jumping in and trying to go to sleep when she knocked on the door.

...

[Her mom in the store in Sutton at Christmas]
She was in the store, she had a personality she always laughed and fooled around, and in those days people were different so she'd do 'I'd give you the cabbage, I'll give you this, I'll give you the sugar if you'll make me this meal." She had a lot of the women - I don't know what kind of deal she'd do - she'd make the borscht and the beet soup and all the noodles or some other neighbor would make it, and we'd get together and when the first star came out we'd eat the meal, around 6 -00. You'd eat until 12 o'clock, it was like a 7 course dinner.

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