Local traditions and culture in Poland

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Most Viewed Local Customs in Poland

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    Polish Superstitions

    by briantravelman Updated Feb 6, 2015

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    The Polish superstitions are very strange, so I thought I would list a few.

    1. Whatever happeneds during Christmas Eve, will happened for the rest of the year. So if you argue on Christmas Eve, according to the superstition, you will argue the entire year.
    I have also heard this superstition for New Year's Eve.

    *If you sneeze on Christmas Eve, you will be getting sick all year.

    2. If you drop a utensil, an unexpected visitor will come to your house.

    3. If you have a figure or cutout of a Jew in your home, you will have money and good luck.

    4. Green folders are supposed to be another good luck item.

    5. If you see a Chimney Sweep, and grab a button on your shirt, and make a wish, it will come true.

    6. If a Stork makes a nest on your property, you will get pregnant.

    7. If a picture falls off the wall, it means a ghost is present.

    8. If you are born with a cap on your head, you will be lucky your whole life.

    9. If you step in a puddle, you will become mayor.

    10. My personal favorite, if you accidentally step in animal crap, you will have good luck.

    Here are some new ones I recently found out about.

    11. It's bad luck to set your handbag on the ground.

    12. If you have a dream about shoes, it means you will go on a trip. If it's black shoes, it will be a bad trip.

    13. If you get a rash on your tongue, it means someone is talking crap about you.

    14. It's bad luck to start something on a Friday.

    15. If you leave your house, and forgot something, don't come back for it, because it's bad luck.

    Those are just a few superstitions off the top of my head. There are probably more, I don't know about.

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    Poles Like To Get Paid In Beer

    by briantravelman Written Aug 21, 2014

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    Beer is a really huge part of Polish culture. If you don't drink, you are not a real Pole. Therefore, a lot of Poles, plumbers, mechanics, and even doctors, will accept beer as payment, or in some cases a bribe, for performing, a service for you. Most of the time it's a 6 pack, no matter how small the task, but sometimes one is enough. Sometimes they will ask for a beer, even if they don't actually fix anything.
    My uncle's friend who is watch repair man, replaced this piece for me, and my uncle asked him how much he owes him, and he just told him to bring two 6 packs, which probably cost a lot more than the piece.
    A neighbor screwed my grandma’s power outlet on the wall, and also demanded a 6 pack as payment.
    This plumber came buy, and didn't even fix anything, but asked for a beer anyways.
    My grandma's doctor didn't want to perform extra tests on her, but my mom gave him a bottle of vodka, and he tested her the very next day.
    Need a place to sleep, no problem. Just bring some beer or a bottle of vodka, and a Pole will let you sleep in their yard.
    You can pretty much get anything done in Poland, for some beer or vodka.
    So if you want to get something fixed in Poland, or have a favor or service done, it's a good to bring a 6 pack or vodka, as payment. Most of the time, the beer costs a lot more than the task performed, but if they want beer, give them beer. A lot of the time, they will invite you to drink it with them.

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    Poles Are REALLY Patriotic

    by briantravelman Updated Aug 20, 2014

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    What you will notice about Polish people, is that they are VERY patriotic, maybe even a little too much.
    There is nothing wrong with being proud of your history, culture, and heritage, but they have taken it way too far, to the point where they think EVERYTHING in Poland is the best in the world, and EVERYTHING about Poland, is perfect. You will often hear Poles making comments about how great their stuff and their country is, while criticizing others. It’s best to just ignore it, so an argument doesn’t start.
    I have talked to Polish Canadians and Polish Americans, who say they find it really weird, but I guess they are no different than most Americans.

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    Polglish

    by briantravelman Updated Aug 14, 2014

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    If you’re walking down the street, sitting in a tram, or watching Polish TV, don’t be surprised if you hear some familiar words, that’s because many Poles these days, speak Polglish. Instead of using their proper Polish words, they will use either plain English words, or a combination of the two. For example, you might hear someone speaking Polish, than hear words like, “weekend”, “news“, “okay”, “sorry”, “problem”, “perfect”, "relax", and “super”, instead of the Polish word.
    You may also hear a combination of the two languages. For example words like “ekonomia” instead of “gospodarka”. “Sandwitche” instead of “kanapki”. “Z mixowac”, instead of “z miesac”. “Professionalista” instead of “Fachowiec”. “Perfectowo“ instead of “dokladnie“ “Scientista“ instead of “naukowiec“ “Teenagezhy“ instead of “mlodzies“ or “na stolatki“. “Italia” instead of “Wlochy”.
    These are all words I have heard Polish people use, and the list goes on and on.
    It really makes me laugh. It’s mostly the young people who talk this way. The older people I’ve talked to said they find it extremely annoying, though it does seem to be spreading to them as well.
    I have no idea how or when Polglish came about, but it’s really funny to listen to. This seems to be a recent phenomenon, because when I visited in the 2000s, they still talked normally.
    There was a saying during Communist era, “Poles aren’t geese, we have our language too.” This no longer seems to be the case. If this continues, it is very possible that the Polish language will die out.

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    Paradocumentaries

    by briantravelman Updated Aug 12, 2014

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    One of the largest television genres in Poland, is the paradocumentary, which is a scripted show, usually featuring amateur actors, that's filmed to look like a documentary. These shows are very popular in Poland, and "document", scenarios, which have been made up by the writers. These scenarios are always every day problems, that could happened to anyone, such as cheating, lieng, or a long lost child. They look so real, that they had me fooled for years. They will actually have the actors tell the camera crew to wait outside, go away, or in some cases, even intervene. All to make the show look as real as possible.
    Some famous Polish paradocumentaries are "Dlaczego Ja?", "Trudne Sprawy", and "Pamietniki z Wakacji".

    Don't let any of these shows fool you, like they did me. They are exactly THAT, shows made to entertain us. If you pay close enough attention, you can pick up some inconsistencies, that will give it away, that it‘s fake. Though I wasn’t 100% certain, until now.
    Though I now know 100%, that all of these shows are fake, they are still entertaining to watch, but it's taught me a valuable lesson, not to believe everything I see on TV, no matter how real it looks.
    But at least it shows, just how talented Polish writers, and actors are. I've never seen this type of show, in the U.S.

    They're Just Actors She's Just An Actress More Actors
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    Dialects

    by briantravelman Written Aug 1, 2014

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    Just like in the U.S., different regions in Poland have different dialects, specifically Kashubia, Silesia, Podkarpackie, Zakopane and Pieniny, and the eastern voivodeships bordering Ukraine and Belarus. I speak fluent Polish, and I have a very difficult time understanding different dialects. Sometimes I watch the Polish news, and they’ll show a story somewhere from the south or east, and I ask my dad, “Are they speaking Ukrainian?”
    I was going through security in Katowice, and the agent had a thick Silesian dialect, and I couldn’t understand a word he was saying, and he started talking to me in English. I was in Wdzydze, and had trouble understanding the Kashubian vendors. Kashubian is the most difficult to understand, since it’s a different language entirely. There are also the Rusyns, in the Bieszczady Mountains, which also have their own language, and you will not understand. The Goral dialect, is the easiest to understand.
    So even if you speak fluent Polish, don’t feel stupid if you can’t understand the locals. You are not alone.

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    Lighthouse Keepers

    by briantravelman Written Jan 11, 2014

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    A tradition that has dissapeared in other European countries because of cost, still thrives here in Poland. Each operating lighthouse in the country actually has its own keeper, that takes care of the lighthouse. This has been a long tradition in Poland, and many children want to follow in the footsteps of their parents and grandparents, and continue the tradition.
    I didn't get to meet any personally, but I did see some going to work. If you are lucky enough to meet one, they might be nice enough to show you their lighthouse, and show you what they do.

    One Of Poland's Many Lighthouses
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    Lucky Jews

    by briantravelman Written Sep 7, 2013

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    I didn't hear about this when I was in the south, so I don't know if this superstition only exists in the north, or in all of the country, but when I was in Malbork and Gdansk, street vendors and shops were selling carvings and cutouts of Jews. The vendors told us that in Poland, having a Jew in your home will bring you good luck and money. I'm not exactly sure how this superstition got started, but it is an interesting one. They're a bit expensive, so I didn't end up buying one, but if you believe in this kind of stuff, go for it, and see if it brings you luck and money. If you are gonna buy one, buy an original wood carving, and not a cheap plastic cutout.

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    Chimney Sweeps

    by briantravelman Written Sep 7, 2013

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    Chimney sweeps are rare in Poland these days, but there is a cool legend about these guys. They say if you see one, you have to grab a button on any peice of clothing you're wearing, and make a wish, and it will come true. I didn't try it, so I have no idea if it works or not, but it's a fun little superstition for the kids. Next time you see one, try it, and who knows, your wish may come true.

    Polish Chimney Sweep
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    churches and cemetery areas

    by kaatrasa Written Apr 28, 2013

    When we drived through poland-we saw so many churches and cemetery areas. And they were all beautiful and carefully maintained. And there was allways people in churches. Peaceful stop between driving.

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    Zulawy Wislane

    by piosku67 Updated Oct 19, 2012

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    Although Republic of Poland is divided into 17 voivodeships ( provinces) according to the administrative reform, which went into effect on 1 January 1999 - see more on -, there are also some traditionally recognised regions connected with geographical features, ethnicity and historical backgrounds. One of those region is Zulawy Wislane, which mostly in Pomeranian Voivodeship (wojewodztwo pomorskie - see more on ) upon the Vistula and Nogat Rivers, in fact in their estuary, a large delta situated on very fertile lands below the sea level in many places. It is famous of " flood control ditches in the depression wetland" and half-timbered houses. So why this information is here in the section of local customs tips? Because we here often say: "I did some sightseeing on Zulawy." or "I come from a village / town in Mazowsze (Mazovia)" or "I'd love to have a cottage and a lot somewhere in Warmia" etc. When someone would take you to Zulawy don't be afraid of ending up on a deserted land, in fact you're close to Gdansk or Tczew or Elblag. What's more, being there you can easily transfer to the other regions called Kaszuby, Kociewie, Bory Tucholskie, Mierzeja Wislana or any other.

    the Vistula Delta (Żuławy Wiślane) northern Poland
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    Taking off the shoes

    by paragianna75 Written May 2, 2011

    Most of the Poles take off their shoes before enter the house. This custom is very common in a lot of countries so probably most of you take it as granted but if it is not used to your contry (like in my country Greece) be prepared and observe what others do :)

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    The Great Orchestra of Christmas Charity

    by Polish_Mila Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    Wielka Orkiestra Swiatecznej Pomocy (The Great Orchestra of Christmas Charity) is the biggest and most prosperous charity organization in Poland. Its objectives, included in the status document, are saving children's lives, health promotion and education in the field of preventive treatment. Between 1993 and 2004 The Great Orchestra of Christmas Charity has collected and spent over $50 mln for saving lives. Besides humanitarian work, the Foundation is also a powerful medium spreading the ideology of kindness, friendship, tolerance, and openness.

    In ten years, the Foundation has completed 8 gigantic projects. It has bought the medical equipment needed on the numerous pediatric divisions specializing in: cardio-surgery, neonatal medicine, oncology, post-traumatic surgery, pediatric nephrology, diagnostics, newborns' surgery, and newborns & children under 5 years old divisions.

    All together, over 10 thousands Pieces of the Most Modern Medical Equipment for Polish Public Hospitals was bought and distributed in public hospitals all around Poland. Among others, Foundation has bought: ambulances, incubators, physiologic monitors, oxygen blenders, infusion and drainage pumps, pulse oximeters, infant ventilators, new beds, anti-bed-sore mattresses, and many more.

    The Great Orchestra of Christmas Charity
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    Wielka Orkiestra Swiatecznej Pomocy

    by ania70pl Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    If you are in Poland in the begining of the year and on the second Sunday of January somebody will give you heartshaped sticker like shown on the pic give them some money back. It doesn’t matter how much will you give... You’ll take part in the biggest charity action in Poland called Wielka Orkiestra Swiatecznej Pomocy - The Great Orchestra of Christmas Charity. They collect money for saving children’s lives. Since 1993 they’ve collected over $44 mln. If you want to know more about this action please check their website.

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    Polish language

    by annase Updated Oct 8, 2010

    The Polish language, a member of the West Slavic branch of the Slavic languages, functions as the official language of Poland. It is a rather tricky language to master, due to numerous consonants one after another. The younger generations usually speak some English and German which are the most common second languages studied and spoken.

    The language uses the Latin alphabet with a few additional letters, (formed with an additional slash or hook), bringing the total to 32. The letters you won't find include: q, v, and x, the only exception being direct translations from other languages (such as 'fax'). There are a whole range of words which look pretty similar to their English equivalents, such as 'policja', 'restauracja' 'hotel' and 'taxi'. These are hardly difficult to miss, but here are a handful of others that may be useful: 'kawiarnia' (cafe), herbaciarnia (tea house), ksiegarnia (book shop), nabial (dairy products), sklep (shop), prasa (newsagent), dworzec (station) and lotnisko (airport).

    A very useful thing for me to know was the difference between 'woda gasowana' (carbonated water) and 'nie gasowana' (still water), not liking carbonated water very much and having bought that at least couple of times during 10 days in Poland!!

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