Though Christmas morning routines vary in the U.S., I bet yours includes at least one of the following: brewing a fresh pot of aromatic coffee. Getting the turkey in the oven. Starting a nice, warm fire. Well, apparently over in Poland, before you snuggle up on the couch in your jammies to see what Santa has left under the tree, someone has to dispatch the live carp swimming in the bathtub. And it can get messy. Says Mrs. Kinga Lisicka of Warsaw in this article on Bikyamasr.com, “When the carp doesn’t die with the first hit of the mallet, then blood spurts all over. And you don’t feel like Christmas anymore.” No, I guess you’d feel more like Halloween.
According to the story, Polish families keep live carp for several days before Christmas so the fish is as fresh as possible for the traditional holiday meal. Of course, now a small group of animal rights activists are raising Cain over there, citing that not only is the tradition cruel to fish, but housewives should not have to clean up the blood before opening gifts, and children confuse the carp with pets, thus becoming devastated at meal time. The group is urging families to buy frozen or fresh-dead carp, which, according to them, has been killed more humanely.
Fresh carp, frozen carp…it all sounds terrible to me, but if it’s a tradition it’s a tradition and I think it should be left alone. In the U.S. some Italian-Americans keep live eels to cook on Christmas Eve. I have a Greek friend who vividly remembers his dad tying a live goat to a tree out back just before Christmas. The goat would magically disappear Christmas morning. Took him a while to figure that one out.
Though I’ll pass on the carp, I must admit I’d pay to see my wife carry out this Polish tradition just once. I can’t imagine how many Clorox wipes she’d go through.