I spend most of my Christmas holidays in Poland and up until a few years ago it was always very white. Snow used to be heavy and everywhere, to the point you can crate igloos, epic snow angels and snow men. And you can’t start the car. And you get stuck in a snowdrift. That kinda snowy. Or, as I call it, proper winter.
Rainy Christmas Eve this year did not leave me optimistic. If I wanted to wear my raincoat, I could have stayed in London, thank you very much. But as we were to sit down for lunch on Christmas Day, it started to snow. Weak and moist at first, melting on the ground; good enough to make snowballs. And it only got better – more snow fell overnight and Boxing Day was white, properly wintery.
The countryside looked picturesque. White fields reflecting snow to the point it blinded you, rivers locked under smooth shiny ice, all the imperfections hidden under the white blanket. The grey, sad villages I had seen on the train journey right before Christmas looked cosy and festive after the snowfall.
Warsaw, already beautifully decorated with Christmas lights, was magical. In the evening, the city centre was full of mulled wine, ice skaters, stalls with gifts and foods and general festiveness. It didn’t even matter it was -8 C outside.
Even squirrels, peacocks and ducks in the Lazienki Park seemed to be chuffed with the snow. They were not bothered by the cold at all, chilling around the Palace. The squirrels, extremely bold, always come up to beg for snacks, but you can’t trick them unless you have the real thing. When I tried to get one to come closer by pretending I had food, it just turned away and digged out a walnut it had hidden before winter.
Winters in Poland are really something. After a year and a half without snow, those few white days of Christmas made the wait worth it.