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December 2, 2016 
I am busy getting ready for tomorrow's gig at Polska Chata in Irondequoit, New York. As I do every year, I will be playing Polish Christmas favorites on guitar and concertina. Nothing gets me in the spirit of Christmas than playing music -- except my grandchildren.

Unfortunately I will not be able to play accordion this year as I had planned. I took a bad spill on my bike about a week ago and have not been able to practice, so maybe next year. But maybe I will sing a few carols instead of just keeping it strictly instrumental. Hey, why not?

I can't believe it's almost Christmas again. Where does the time go?

Bob's Blog:





Here is my schedule if you are interested in hearing me play:

  • Saturday, December 3: Polska Chata, Irondequoit, NY - 5 PM - ?
  • Friday, December 9: Euro Café, Geneseo, NY - 5 PM - ?
        Rochester, NY -  5:00 PM
  • Friday, December 16: Polska Chata, Irondequoit, NY - 5 PM - ?
  • Saturday, December 17: Euro Café, Geneseo, NY - 5 PM - ?

Please remember to call for reservations. Seating is limited.


UPDATE: I should have been practicing today, but I spent most of my time doing research on my family tree. Keith Kaszubik featured the Stopiński surname in the Am-Pol Eagle newspaper and one thing led to another. Ewa Stopiński was my grand mother and Keith Kaszubik's article provided me with some interesting information. In fact, he solved a mystery for me, which I don't have time to write about at the moment. I also discovered that he has a database of the easy Polish settlers in Dunkirk, New York. My great-grandfather was one of the earliest settlers, so I would definitely like to have a look at his database.

Here is what I read about it online:

Kaszubik Completes Early Dunkirk Database
Like Buffalo, Poles began settling in Dunkirk, NY in the 1850s. However, unlike Buffalo's Polonia, established in 1853, additional research remains in order to establish a precise date of inception for Dunkirk's Polonia. Buffalo is accepted as Western New York's oldest Polonia because St. Stanislaus Parish was established in 1873, two years before St. Hyacinth's in Dunkirk. 
Professional onomatologist Keith Kaszubik decided to pursue a part of Dunkirk Polonia's early history. The project he has completed is a computer database of baptisms, marriages and burials transcribed from the microfilmed records of St. Hyacinth's for the years 1875-1879. Still remaining is research of Dunkirk's early pioneers documented in the non-Polish catholic church records.

Kaszubik has merged this project with two other genealogical databases, Buffalo's Early Polonia 1853-1879 and the Boston Hills' Polonia, into one new all encompassing database, Western New York's Polonia, numbering over 2,500 vital records.
I really love the Euro Café - Real Food & Deli. Margaret and Krystyna rock and the food is delicious and authentic Polish. I'll be there again next Friday (12/16/2016) playing kolędy; maybe I'll see you there. http://www.euro-cafe.us/.
I really love the Euro Café - Real Food & Deli. Margaret and Krystyna rock and the food is delicious and authentic Polish. I'll be there again next Friday (12/16/2016) playing kolędy; maybe I'll see you there. http://www.euro-cafe.us/.
I really love the Euro Café - Real Food & Deli. Margaret and Krystyna rock and the food is delicious and authentic Polish. I'll be there again next Friday (12/16/2016) playing kolędy; maybe I'll see you there. http://www.euro-cafe.us/.
I really love the Euro Café - Real Food & Deli. Margaret and Krystyna rock and the food is delicious and authentic Polish. I'll be there again next Friday (12/16/2016) playing kolędy; maybe I'll see you there. http://www.euro-cafe.us/.
December 10, 2016 I am again enjoying playing kolędy i kastorałki this year. Last night I played at the Euro-Café & Deli in Geneseo, New York. I played there for the first time last Christmas in their former location down the street. Their new digs are much more spacious but equally as inviting. Margaret and Krystyna, the proprietors, are just as nice as can be and the authentic Polish food is wonderful. The new location is right on Main Street close to the famous bear fountain that unfortunately was destroyed as a result of a recent car accident. Currently several Christmas trees have been placed in the fountain, so it's well lit and easy to see. 

Geneseo looks beautiful - like a Courier & Ives scene or a village you may have under your Christmas tree. It is especially magical under a gentle snowfall, so don't let a little snow scare you away. I'll be there again next Friday (12/16/2016) playing kolędy; maybe I'll see you there.
http://www.euro-cafe.us/.

Euro-Café & Deli in Geneseo, NY
December 11, 2016 - Wigilia Dinner
Such a wonderful wigilia dinner last night at St. John Fisher College in Rochester, New York! The dinner
is an annual event that is always well attended and a pleasure to be a part of. I always look forward to seeing friends, sharing opłatek and playing kolędy during the wigilia social hour. I must say I always love singing carols with friends listening to Dariusz Terefenko tickle the piano keys. This year Dariusz was accompanied by violinist Anna Weldy and cellist, Louisa Weldy. (Love those strings!) Also Dr. Ralph Jósefowicz and friends (The Psalmtones) sang a selection of carols in English and Ralph led the caroling in Polish. Let me tell you, these guys can really harmonize! Krystyna Gutt gave a very informative talk about Polish Christmas traditions. Krystyna has such a beautiful and professional speaking voice so it is always a pleasure just to hear her speak. I notice these things. I could go on and on but it's Sunday morning and I have things to do. Trust me, it was a wonderful experience.

Wigilia Dinner is sponsored by the Polish Heritage Society of Rochester. Thank you Wigilia organizers, volunteers and sponsors!

Wigilia Dinner is sponsored by the Polish Heritage Society of Rochester
Blessing and sharing of opłatki
The Psalmtones
Sharing opłatek
My table
Activities for the kids
Program cover
Wigilia Program
Menu
Thank You
December 18, 2016 - Polska Chata
I played my last gig before Christmas last night. Now I will spend the week wrapping gifts and getting ready for our family Wigilia. Last night I played at Polska Chata Restaurant in Irondequoit, New York. Playing there is always a fun time! The owners and people working there are so friendly and the food is wonderful, and it is also a pleasure to interact with the patrons. That's easy to do because the surroundings are so intimate and the ambiance very relaxing. Better than therapy!

I should also add that there are so many interesting things (photos, objets d'art, etc.) to look at while playing. The proprietors, Margaret and Joe remodeled the restaurant last summer and did a fantastic job! I just took a few photos to share, but there is much more to see. 
The history of Rochester's Polish community is featured on the walls of Polska Chata

The First Star - from Reymont's "The Peasants" (Chłopi)
         Slowly the village was vanishing in grey snowy shadows, melting away; neither huts nor fences nor orchards could be made out; only a few lights twinkled, more thick than usual, because everyone was busy preparing the meal of Christmas Eve.
        In every cabin, from the richest to the very poorest of all, preparations were being zealously made; in each family room, at the corner next the east, they had placed a sheaf of corn; the tables were strewn with hay beneath bleached lined napery; and they looked out eagerly through the windows for the appearance of the first star.
        The sky, as is often the case when it freezes, was not very clear when evening began to fall; it had seemed to veil itself as soon as the last glow had burned out, and was hidden in the gloom of many a dusky wreath.
        Yuska and Vitek, terribly chilled, were standing outside the porch, on the watch for the appearance of the first star.
        “There it is!” Vitek suddenly exclaimed. “There it is!”
        Boryna and the others and Roch last of them all, came out to see.
        Yes, it was there, and just in the east, having pierced trough the somber curtains which hung round about it: it shone forth from the dark blue depths, and seemed to grow larger as they gazed upon it; gleaming brighter and brighter, nearer and neared, till Roch knelt down in the snow, and the others after him.
        “Lo, ‘tis the star the Three Wise Men”, he said; “the Star of Bethlehem, in whose gleaming our Lord was born—Blessed be His Holy Name!”
        These words they piously repeated after him, gazing up with eager eyes at the bright far-off witness of the miraculous Birth—the visible tokens of God’s mercy visiting the world.
        Their hearts throbbed the tender gratitude and glowing faith, while they received and absorbed into their hearts that pure light, the sacred fire—the sacraments to fight with and to overcome all evil!
        And the star, seeming to grow larger still, rose up like a ball of fire, from which beams of azure brightness shot down like the spokes of a mystic wheel, darting its rays upon the snow, and twinkling with radiant victory over darkness. Then after it there came forth other stars, its faithful attendants, peering out in innumerably dense multitudes—filling all the heavens, covering them with a dew of light, and making them, as it were, a mantle of dark azure, strewn with silver motes.
    “And now that the Word is made Flesh,” said Roch, ‘it is time to take our meal.”

- Vol.2 WINTER, pp.78-78; Translated from the original Polish by Michael H. Dzierwicki, Reader of English Literature at the University of Cracow

 Talking Animals- from Reymont's "The Peasants" (Chłopi)
        Meanwhile Vitek, having been greatly struck to hear that cattle possessed human speech on Christmas Eve, called Yuzka away quietly, and they went both of them to the cow-house.
        Holding each other by the hands, trembling with awe, and crossing themselves more than once, they slipped in amongst the cows.
        Down they knelt by the side of the largest one, that they looked on as the Mother of the Byre. Out of breath, agitated, with tears in their eyes and dread in their hearts, as if they were in church and during the Elevation-- they nevertheless were upheld by strong trust and a lively faith. Vitek put his mouth to her ear, and quavered in a loud voice:
       "Hist! Grey One! Grey One!”
        But she only gurgled inaudibly, and went on chewing with a roll of her tongue and a smack of her lips.
        “Something strange has come upon her: she answers naught!”
        Then they knelt by the next cow, and Vitek, who by this time was on the verge of weeping, called earnestly to her:
        “Spotted One! Spotted One!
    They both approached very close to her mouth, and listened, holding their breath; but never, never a word!
    Ah! no doubt we have sinned, so we shall not hear her speak. They answer only such as are sinless; and we are sinners!”
    “True, Yuszka, true! We are sinful, we have sinned. O Lord! so it is! Aye, I stole some bits of string from master once. And an old strap besides… Yes, and also…” He could go no farther; remorse and repentance for his faults shook the lad with a convulsion of tears and sobs; an Yuszka, following his example, wept from the bottom of her heart. They cried together, and would not be comforted till they had laid bare before each other all their “manifold sins and offences.”
    At home, no one remarked their absence, for all were piously singing hymns—not Christmas carols, which it was not deemed proper to strike up until midnight.

 Vol.2 WINTER, pp.87-88; Translated from the original Polish by Michael H. Dzierwicki, Reader of English Literature at the University of Cracow

December 24, 2016 - The First Star
​Here are two excerpts from "Chłopi", a novel written by Nobel Prize-winning Polish author Władysław Reymont in four parts between 1904 and 1909. 
The photo on the left is from the movie version of Reymont's, "The Peasants"(Polish: Chłopi). The film was film directed by Jan Rybkowski and released in 1973.

How was Wigilia celebrated in Poland in the late 1800’s? Here are my notes on the food and customs as described in Reymont’s novel "The Peasants" (Chłopi) - English version: 


Preparations:
Every cabin aired, white-washed, scoured and scrubbed
Pine needles scattered leading to the entrance of the hut
Coloured paper cutouts, ‘globes’, moons and stars
Food, including honey-and-cheese cakes
Church decorated with pine branches
Sheaf of 'corn' (the translator likely meant wheat not corn) in the east corner of room




Meal
First star
A needy villager was invited to join the family
Prayer
Coloured wafers shaped like altar bread
Sour beet-root soup with mushrooms and potatoes
Herring rolled in flour and fried in oil
Cabbage and mushrooms seasoned with oil
Buckwheat meal mixed with honey and fried in oil of poppy seed
Common dry bread, “… it was not becoming on such a great fast day to eat either cakes or strucle (makowiec, poppy seed roll), those containing butter or milk.”

After the meal:
Coffee w/ sugar
Reading of the Nativity
Stories told
Singing of hymns (no Christmas carols until midnight
Children secretly testing animals’ ability to speak on Christmas Eve
Shepard’s Mass at midnight

Wesołych Świąt Bożego Narodzenia
 i 
Szczęśliwego Nowego Roku!