Archive for 'Culture'

Niedziela Palmowa in Poland!

Posted on 29. Mar, 2015 by in Calendar, Culture, Holidays, Religion

Today is Palm Sunday (Niedziela Palmowa). It marks the official beginning of Poland’s Easter festivities – perhaps the country’s most sacred holiday. Leading up to the season you’ll see decorative handmade palms (palmy) for sale almost everywhere in Poland. These traditional decorations made from a variety of dried flowers and plants are crafted in villages all over Poland. Palms are taken to church on Sunday to be blessed before decorating homes for the duration of the season.


Image by PolandMFA on

Image by PolandMFA on

As a deeply Catholic country, Poland takes its Easter celebrations seriously; throughout the period, the visiting foreigner can expect large shops and shopping malls and many bars and restaurants to be either empty or closed beginning on Good Friday (Wielki Piątek). A traditional day of abstinence, dutifully observing Catholics visit church to attend stations of the cross (droga krzyżowa) – a series of prayers following Jesus Christ’s route to his crucifixion.

Image by kingary on

Image by kingary on

On Easter Saturday (Wielka Sobota) Poles, typically children, bring brightly decorated baskets of food to church to have them blessed. These baskets traditionally contain a piece of sausage (kawałek kiełbasy), bread (chleb), egg (jajko), mazurek cake (a traditional Easter cake), some salt (sól), pepper (pieprz), some horseradish (chrzan) and a symbolic ram made from dough (symboliczny baranek z ciasta). In addition ‘pisanki’ are included – painted boiled eggs which have been prepared in the lead-up to Easter by the whole family. Each of these components of the basket has a symbolic meaning. The eggs and meat symbolise new life, fertility and health, the salt protects against bad spirits and helps you follow the right path, the bread symbolise the body of Christ and by this future prosperity in terms of always having food to feed yourself, the horseradish represents strength and physical health and the cake represents skills and talents needed for the coming year. Rezurekcja (Resurrection), a traditional mass with procession, is held Saturday night or Easter morning depending on parish tradition.

On Easter Sunday (Niedziela Wielkanocna), families gather together to celebrate with an Easter breakfast of żurek (Polish rye soup), bread, eggs, sausage, horseradish and poppy seed cakes. Each person places a small piece of the blessed food on their plate before exchanging wishes with other members of the family. The symbolic dough ram is placed on the table to symbolise the resurrection of Christ.

Things take a more light-hearted twist on Easter Monday. Known as Śmingus Dyngus, the day is dominated by public water fights and everyone is given carte blanche to drench anyone they see with water. You, as a foreigner, are not exempt from this practise, so move fast if you see someone armed with a water pistol or bucket and a grin. Although it’s never pleasant to have a jug of water thrown over your head, this is an improvement from the past when young people were beaten with sticks from Palm Sunday trees – explained away as bringing luck and strength for the year ahead.

Happy Easter to all of you!

Do następnego razu… (Till next time…)

Do you know these Polish phrases?

Posted on 01. Mar, 2015 by in Culture, Grammar

Every language has its specific expressions which are pretty difficult to understand abroad. Polish is not an exception in this field. Just have a look at some (funny) examples:

Image by PolandMFA on

Image by PolandMFA on

Wypchaj się sianem – “stuff yourself with straw” (get lost)

Wziąć coś na ząb – snack on something

Owijać prawdę w bawełnę – wrap the truth in cotton (in English, you’d say that you’re out of sorts, queasy, or upset. In Polish, you’re not in the sauce, which means that you’re in a very bad mood)

Szukać dziury w całym – looking for a hole in the whole (looking for excuses)

A jedzie mi tu pociąg/czołg? – Do I have a train / tank riding here? (it is a great reply when someone tells you something totally unbelievable)

Już po ptakach – It’s after the birds (it’s too late, and nothing can be done about the situation)

Ręce opadają – Hands are dropping (this is used to describe situations that are basically hopeless. It’s when you surrender, lose all hope, just give up. It’s similar to the English expression, “To throw one’s hands in the air”)

Być w proszku – to be in powder (if you’re expecting guests and they arrive 10 minutes early while you’re still in the shower, well then you’re still in powder, which means you are unprepared or not yet ready for something.)

Bez dwóch zdań – Without two sentences (if something is without two sentences, it means it is without a doubt, or without unnecessary discussion. For example, without two sentences, traveling is a great way to learn about other cultures.)

Czuć miętę do kogoś – To feel mint for someone (If you’re feeling mint for someone, it means you’re attracted to them, or just simply have a crush on them)

Rzucać grochem o ścianę – throw peas onto a wall (If you’re trying to persuade someone, or explaining something to someone who won’t budge or even listen to you, then you’re throwing peas onto a wall)

Być nie w sosie – to be not in the sauce (In English, you’d say that you’re out of sorts, queasy, or upset. In Polish, you’re not in the sauce, which means that you’re in a very bad mood)


Till next time! Do następnego razu…

First oscar in the best foreign-language film category for Poland!

Posted on 26. Feb, 2015 by in Countries, Culture, Movies

Yes, I know…you probably already heard about it. However, I think, it is such a great achievement, that it is definitely worth mentioning more than few times!

MV5BMTUzNzI0Mjk3N15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNjczMDM1MTE@._V1_SX214_AL_“Ida”, directed by Poland’s Paweł Pawlikowski, has won the Oscar for best foreign language film, defeating the much-fancied Russian anti-Putin satire Leviathan, and becoming the first Polish film to win the award!

Telling the story of a novice nun in 1960s Poland who discovers she is Jewish just before she is to take holy orders, Ida emerged as a strong awards contender (kandydat) after winning the best film award at the London film festival in 2013. It has since battled with Leviathan at all the major awards ceremonies since, winning the Bafta for best foreign film and best film at the European film awards, but losing out at the Golden Globes.

In a majestic convent (majestatyczny klasztor), an orphaned young woman—a novice named Anna (Agata Trzebuchowska)—is ordered by her Mother Superior (Matka Przełożona) to visit her aunt in Lódź before she takes orders. A beautiful eighteen-year-old with a broad Slavic face, a composed, devotional manner, and a tantalizing dimple, the girl has never left the convent before and knows nothing of her family. In Lódź, wearing her habit, Anna enters the apartment of a forty-five-ish woman, who is puffing on a cigarette and waiting for the guy she picked up the night before to leave. A minor state judge and Communist Party member, Wanda Gruz (Agata Kulesza) tells her niece that her real name is Ida Lebenstein, and that she’s Jewish—a “Jewish nun,” she says. Abrupt and dismissive, Wanda enjoys attacking the girl’s ignorance. But Wanda has mysteries of her own and scores to settle: Ida’s mother was her beloved sister. The two agree to go to the village in which the parents were hidden by Christians and then betrayed—the village where Wanda grew up.

“Ida” becomes both an investigation of sorts and an intermittent road movie, featuring a dialectically opposed odd couple—Catholic and Communist, innocent girl and hard-living political intellectual, lover (of Christ) and hater (of the Polish past). Yet neither is a type, and what happens to each has to be understood as both an individual’s fate and a Polish fate. Ida’s faith and disciplined simplicity will be jostled by experience, and Wanda will be tested, too, as her own buried sorrows come back to life. Sardonic comedy lurks within the strange pairing. At first, Wanda can’t stop taunting Ida’s indifference to sex, and, about the village, she says, “What if you go there and discover that there is no God?” Yet Pawlikowski doesn’t favor one point of view over the other: the two women are equal in their isolation and their need to pull together the shards of identity in a country that has been almost entirely broken…

Poland is the home of some of the world’s best-known filmmakers. Among Oscar winners from Poland or with Polish connections are Roman Polański, who was born in France but also holds Polish citizenship (for The Pianist); cinematographer Janusz Kamiński (Schindler’s List); and veteran director Andrzej Wajda, who received an honorary Oscar. The nation of 40 million people had never won the foreign-language category despite nine previous nominations over the past half century, including Agnieszka Holland’s In Darkness in 2011 and Polanski’s Knife in the Water in 1963.

I would love to know if any of you has seen “Ida’ and what is your impression of the movie! Please share it with us in a few words in comments below:)

Do następnego razu… (Till next time…)