Monday, November 19, 2012

The Arch Bishop, Wigilia and Bread Carvings

Dear L.A.B. Rats, Pollacks and Beasts of the Field.....

The following story was printed in the StarTribune a few years back.

It focuses on the holiest day in a Pollack bakers life.



Jackie Crosby; Staff Writer
Publication Date: December 25, 2004 Page: 07B Section: NEWS Edition: METRO

Polish legend has it that on the night of Christmas Eve, animals
gain the ability to speak in human voices, leading people to seek
the miracle of reconciliation.
To honor the mysticism of legend and his Polish-Catholic
heritage, St. Paul breadmaker Danny ( Klecko) McGleno has started a
tradition that he says delights ethnic Eastern Europeans as well as
urban hipsters.
As darkness falls on Dec. 23, he sets up a holy display of
candles, ribbons and bread around a tree. On the ground, he places
a representation of the Holy Trinity, three 18-inch busts that he
carves from bread. On the branches, he dangles two dozen Polish
sourdough baguettes.
After 5 p.m. on Christmas Eve, everything on the trees is "up for
grabs," he says, as people pluck bread from the branches and take
it home to set outside for the animals.
"It's mostly spread by word of mouth, but each year I have a few
more people who come out to see it," said McGleno, who is better
known by his nickname, Klecko. "I get Poles and Czechs. Some of the
Russians get really excited about it."
This year Klecko is setting up outside the Bean Factory, a coffee
shop at 1518 Randolph Av. in St. Paul. He said it is his fifth
official year, though he has done it for years out in the woods.
"According to tradition, this usually happens in the town square
or some gathering place," Klecko said. "In my neighborhood, all the
cool people gather at the Bean Factory."
For modern-day Poles, the night of Christmas Eve, or Wigilia,
remains a night of family gathering, forgiveness and new
For Klecko, who has baked bread for presidents and royalty as
well as provided the bratwurst buns at Minnesota Wild hockey games,
the magic is just part of the joy he gets out of making the display.
"It's a way for me to pay respect to the customs of my masters,"
he said.


I am delighted that Jackie was kind enough to run this story back in the day, however....let me expound on it a little more.

Wigilia is a Polish a day, or better yet, belief that on that when the clock strikes midnight, on the morning of December 24th, the Wigilia starts by the animals gathering at the cities common area.

When they get together at that fountain or tree, the animals transform and are able to communicate with human voices.

This miracle takes place to teach humans how tremendous the power of God (and the Fauna) can be.

Therefore, I think we are supposed to use this moment to realize how imperfect we can be as well and with that, hopefully we will discern how important it is to forgive each other.

The first time I set one of these displays up in the Capitol City was 10 or 11 years ago.

I didn't tell a soul I was going to do this, that is....with the exception of Arch Bishop Flynn.

I called his office, spoke with his Nun / Administrator and tried to hit them up for a blessing.

As Jerry Maguire once said..................

"We live in a cynical-cynical world."

I realize that, but to be honest......I wasn't surprised when the Arch Bishop sent me an official document that blessed me and all the Pollacks that would attend this site.

What did surprise however was that several months later....I ran into a Nun, and she told me that the Arch Bishop actually closed chambers and performed a special Mass for the beasts of the field.

When this news touched me........

My heart opened wide, and my mind told me to never forget that people in high positions often times will do what is required w/o ever letting the rest of us know.

This was such an important moment in my life, and I'm guessing it won't translate in words quite like I wish it would.

But I have always been the type of person that has to believe in authority.

Without it, I would be lost.

some of you Americans might wonder why I would post this message just days before Thanksgiving, why not wait until we get closer to Christmas?

Well, the Commercial World, the Black Market Brigade has already got their engine moving full speed towards you.

Every year Christmas becomes more and more commercial, but it doesn't have to.

If you are a Christian, Catholic....or yes, even a Lutheran, you are in charge of your own personal Christmas, and if you claim this right..........

You get my point.

I digress, In closing, I should give a few more instructions concerning Wigilia .............

The ribbon tied around the tree is supposed to be red. The color denotes the blood of Christ and how it was shed on the cross.

Since this story was reported, I was contacted by Germans in my community that informed me that in one of their traditions, they added a candle to signify that Christ is the light of the world.

How cool it is to see "That Couple" walking down the street at 3:41 a.m. Christmas Eve morning.

These people have to be Lutheran's because not only are they wearing matching windbreakers, but they also are wearing those fluorescent orange vests.....

There they are huffing it up the avenue while the entire city is asleep and then off in the distance......

A flame is blazing.

As they get closer, they see beautiful baguettes dangling from the branches.

There's religious tokens on the ground.

If that weren't enough, as these folks stop to figure out if religious relics by, and on the tree are Blair Witch props.

Then out of the shadows appears a 276 pound Pollack.

Sweet Jesus - Save Their Souls..............................

Every culture has a way to give back.

To many of us Pollacks, and a few of us bakers.

It is really important to give back the God and the Animals.

Our ancestors and Bread Masters have celebrated the Wigilia for centuries.

That is my definition of Christmas Charlie Brown.


  1. it's a great story, and a great tender tradition. but i am astounded to learn that Klecko is your "nickname."