Religion in everyday life
Religion is very important in the life of most Poles. Nine out of ten Poles are Catholic. Visiting the church on Sundays is part of everyday life for devout Catholics. Many festivals and customs are also associated with it. Millions of people make a pilgrimage to Czestochowa every year. There is a picture of Mary in a monastery, the “Black Madonna”, which is very venerated. Many Poles are still proud of Karol Wojtyla, who became Pope John Paul II in 1978. You can find out how to celebrate Christmas in Poland at Christmas in Poland.
The family is very important to Poland. People stick together and like to call a cousin a sister or a brother-in-law as a brother. However, the number of children in Polish families is no longer larger than in ours. Each woman has an average of 1.3 children. So many little Poles have only one brother or sister or no siblings at all.
Most of the Poles have the surname Nowak, followed by Kowalski, Wiśniewski and Wójcik. For names ending in -ski, -cki or -dzki, the -i becomes -a for women. So Mr. Kowalski is married to Mrs. Kowalska.
And how is Jakub Nowak doing, for example? Like many Poles, he lives in a block, which is a large prefabricated housing estate. He married his Iwona very early and they have two children: Jan and Lena. You live in an apartment with three rooms on 80 square meters. Jakub and Iwona sleep in the living room on a tapczan, which is a sofa bed.
Living in Poland
Many Polish families live very cramped in the cities. Often they only have a two- or three-room apartment in one of the prefabricated housing estates called Blok here. If there are several children in the family, they must share a room. Often the grandparents also live in the apartment or in the house. In the meantime, however, more families can also afford a small house on the outskirts or in the country.
The distribution of roles is often still traditional: the man feeds the family, the woman does the housework and looks after the children. However, many young people are now rethinking this too.
Is there anything that you think is typically Polish? What do you associate with Poland? And what are your parents thinking about? Maybe on pierogi and bigos – both are popular in Poland. Or maybe you think of Lukas Podolski, Robert Lewandowski or Miroslav Klose? These soccer players were all born in Poland. Incidentally, many Polish family names end in -ski or -cki. Other endings are -ak, -ek, -wisc or -czyk.
The most common surname in Poland is Nowak. For women, the ending -a can be added to certain names, which is typical for Slavic languages. Marek Kowalski’s wife is then, for example, Anna Kowalska. If you address a man, you add a “Pan” in front of the name, for a woman the word “Pani”.
Mazurka and polonaise
Mazurka and Polonaise are the two dances with which Poland is mainly associated. They are considered national dances. In the polonaise, couples step through the hall in a dance. They dance a sequence of figures with dignity.
The mazurka is a folk dance and is similar to the Viennese waltz. You jump forward on one foot with your body leaning forward.
Probably the most famous musician from Poland is Frédéric Chopin. In 1810 he was born in the small town of Zelazowa Wola. His mother was Polish, but his father was French – hence the French-sounding name. Chopin was only 39 years old, but composed unforgettable piano music. His most important pieces are his etudes.
And what else?
Poles are considered to be particularly hospitable. If you are invited to Poland, you will feel it as a guest – not only through special cordiality, but also because there is guaranteed to be enough to eat. Maybe there are pierogi, bigos, cabbage rolls or barsczc. Because these are typical dishes from Poland. And there is sure to be something sweet too!
The special thing about Warsaw
According to ezinereligion, Warsaw is the capital of Poland and is inland. Almost two million people live here. That is about as much as in Hamburg. The Vistula, the longest river in Poland, flows through Warsaw.
Oh what does that mean? Where are we going here? Good to know, because the circle and triangle are the symbols for boys ‘and girls’ toilets in Poland! If you are a girl you should take the door with the circle, as a boy you better go to the triangle!
Good to know: If you want to visit someone in Warsaw, you not only have to know which street and house number someone lives in, but also the apartment number. Namely, names are not on the door sign, only numbers!
Much in Warsaw is reminiscent of the Second World War. It was 70 years ago, but it is not forgotten in the memories of the Poles. Plaques and monuments remind of the bad times back then. At that time, in 1939, Germany attacked Poland because the people who were in power at the time, the National Socialists, wanted to conquer and own the country. That was the beginning of the Second World War. The Germans wreaked havoc. Warsaw was destroyed and a great many people died at that time.
A famous war memorial is this one too. It is best known because Willy Brandt came here in 1970. He was then Chancellor of Germany and he knelt in front of this monument. He asked the Poles for their forgiveness for what the Germans had done to the Poles. This, in turn, was so appreciated by the Poles that they erected another memorial, namely for Willy Brandt’s kneeling. This brought Poland and Germany much closer again.
Imagine that there were only six houses left in Warsaw’s old town after the war! Today it looks like it used to be. The city was rebuilt.
Do you want to eat something now? Then try pierogi! They are a bit like filled noodles or mailbags, but in Poland they are often filled with sauerkraut. But there are also pancakes with strawberry sauce or potato pancakes! Mmmh!