Archive for 'traditions'

Which soft drinks Poles like the most?

Posted on 08. Oct, 2014 by in Culture, traditions

We all know that anytime people think about Poles and their drinking habits – vodka screams at us! Yes, part of it is true. Just like each country has specific food and drinks that is popular there. Poles are used to drinking shots of vodka…but I have to say that usually opinion about it is exaggeration.

Now how about soft drinks? Which ones are popular in Poland? I can definitely tell you that when I was growing up…I barely tasted soda. Kompot (compote) has been always on the table.

Image by funtik.cat on Flickr.com

Image by funtik.cat on Flickr.com

Compotes are drinks prepared of fruits – usually fresh, sometimes dried. Sugar is added and sometimes cloves are used as a spice. In Poland the most popular fruits are: apples, morello cherries, currants, cherries, strawberries, pears and a rhubarb. Compote is prepared in the summer and stored for the fall and the winter time. It’s served cold, together with the fruits. A glass of compote is typical dinner drink in many Polish homes.

The so-called ‘susz’, prepared of the blend of dried fruits is a special kind of compote. Susz, in contrast with raw fruit compotes, has a brown color, muddy look and a very peculiar taste. Susz is one of compulsory ingredients of the Christmas Eve supper table. I still remember hiding coke or sprite under the Christmas table….because according to the tradition…we were not supposed to drink soda before midnight.

What else was popular when I was a child? Of course oranżadaOrangeade is – as you probably know – a sweet, alcohol-free, carbonated drink with an orange taste (traditionally). This drink, which travelled to Poland straight from France, spread in the aristocratic Polish cuisine in the 18th century. Basic ingredients of oranzada are sugar and orange juice or syrup.

Oranżada had its period of magnificence during the Cold War. In communist Poland, poorly and insufficiently equipped with goods of any kind, the orangeade constituted one of the basic, bottled drinks available in groceries. There was a technology of producing oranżada of powdered orange juice(!). This products was sold as powder, which dissolved in a glass of water gives you, a faint reminder of a glass of oranzada-type beverage. Another type of oranżada was sold in plastic bags which thirsty one should pierce with a straw. Today the popularity of this drink is definitely smaller, compared with Coca-Cola and other ‘international’ drinks.

Other than that…juices are popular as well as soda, although soda definitely not as popular as in USA…

Do następnego razu… (Till next time…)

How does Polish funeral look like?

Posted on 02. May, 2014 by in Countries, traditions

Funerals in Poland, i.e. the actual ceremonies, go a long way back. In addition to mourning the dead, it has always been a time of evaluating the life of those left behind and, in line with the Catholic faith, always with a view to improve their attitude toward others. Funerals gave the priests celebrating the passage from the worldly to the (hopefully) heavenly an opportunity to rebuke the living for their sins while calling on them to lead a better life. For the believers this seems to work rather well, as everyone fears death, one way or another.

As most people in Poland are Catholic, they usually have a Christian funeral ceremony, which may or may not be similar to whatever is practiced by other Christian nations. With the death of a close one the family usually publishes an obituary (nekrolog) (in Poland this is essentially a death announcement published in one or more newspapers indicating the person who died and identifying the date and place of the funeral) and lets distant relatives know of the sad event. Similar death announcements (klepsydry) are also posted at the church at which the ceremony is to be held, and possibly also in other places, such as the home of the deceased to let their neighbors know. Funeral homes (dom pogrzebowy) are contacted to perform all of the required legal steps and provide the coffin or other funeral-related artifacts.

Once all of this is done and the day comes, people usually gather before the mass for a wake (czuwanie) by the casket (trumna) (traditionally this can last as long as an entire night) in the chapel, which is then followed by the service. In addition to the usual celebration, instead of the sermon the priest provides a brief account of the deceased’s life, concentrating on the positive aspects. Depending on the arrangements with the church, other family members may also give their own eulogies, although this is highly uncommon. Following the mass the casket is carried by the funeral home workers to the hearse (karawan) which, along with all the flowers and wreaths (kwiaty i wieńce), takes the deceased on their last journey (ostatnia podróż).

When all the mourners (żałobnicy) have arrived at the cemetery (cmentarz), the priest will commence the graveside committal service, or the final farewell (ostatnie pożegnanie). While throwing a handful of soil onto the casket lowered into the grave (grób), they will repeat the well-known phrase: “Dust thou art, and unto dust thou shalt return” (Z prochu powstałeś i w proch się obrócisz), known in the Anglican tradition as “Ashes to ashes, dust to dust”. This is also the time when family members can say the last goodbye. After this the gravediggers (grabarze) will start their work and the overall atmosphere will become very somber and sad. It is customary for mourners to approach the closest relatives of the deceased person and offer condolences, saying for example: Moje najszczersze wyrazy współczucia (My deepest sympathy) or Proszę przyjąć moje kondolencje (Please accept my condolences). Once this has been said, it is probably best to leave the family mourners for a while to allow them a moment of solitude with their feeling of loss and sorrow.

Following the burial service (pochówek) it is also customary in Poland to offer a funeral luncheon (stypa or konsolacja) involving a meal and a gathering with the family to remember the life of the deceased. Such gathering may be held at the decedent’s house or at a designated reception hall or restaurant. If you have been invited, spend some time with the family comforting them over a meal, and leave paying your final respects.

Do następnego razu… (Till next time…)

Wesołych Świąt Wielkanocnych!

Posted on 19. Apr, 2014 by in Calendar, Holidays, traditions

Easter (Wielkanoc) is traditionally is the most important Christian holiday, commemorating the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The Polish Easter’s original folk and religious character and it not changed much during the centuries, but due to the rich variety of many regional traditions in Poland, some published information might be little different.

Easter observances in Poland actually begin on Ash Wednesday, when pussywillows called in polish “bazie” or “kotki” are cut and placed in the water. These pussywillow twigs are used later on Palm Sunday (“Palmowa Niedziela”) as “palms” to be blessed in the church. Holy Week (Wielki Tydzień) begins on Palm Sunday, which is a commemoration of Christ’s entry into Jerusalem.

  • Ash Wednesday / Środa PopielcowaThe Polish Easter celebrations, beginning with Ash Wednesday. Most of the Poles try to go to the church for the mass, where priests mark their heads with a cross of ashes while saying: “Remember, man thou art dust and to dust thou shall return”. (Z prochu powstałeś i w proch sie obrócisz)
  • Lent / Wielki PostFor Polish Catholics, Lent is the most reflective spiritual season. During this time people are fasting, going to the confession, praying and visiting the specially decorated churches to see “Our Lord’s Grave”. Each parish strives to come up with the most artistically and religiously evocate arrangement in which the Blessed Sacrament, draped in a filmy veil, is prominently displayed. During the Lent most of the people do not eat meat on Fridays.
  • Palm Sunday / Niedziela PalmowaOn this day people bring the pusssywillow branches or other custom made wild flowers bouquets instead of palms to the church for the blessing. Some older folks say that swallowing one of the buds from the pussywillows branch will ensure health all year. Parishioners processed with the palms through the streets around the parish, celebrating the triumphant entry of Jesus into Jerusalem.
    Image by Magic Madzik on flickr.com

    Image by Magic Madzik on flickr.com

     

  • Holly Saturday, Food Blesing/ŚwięconkaOn Saturday people take to churches decorated baskets (Swieconka) containing a sampling of traditional food to be blessed. Swieconka is very popular Polish tradition (see below). Also this day typically Polish ceremonies are performed in the church yard. It is the blessing of the fire, the reverence which goes back to pagan times.Food Blessing / Święconka

    Święconka is one of the most enduring and beloved Polish traditions. On Saturday people take to churches decorated baskets containing a sampling of traditional food to be blessed: hard-boiled eggs, ham, sausage, salt, pepper, horseradish, fruits, bread and cake. Prominently displayed among these is the Easter lamb, usually molded from butter and colorful pisanki.

    Common foods brought for blessing include: eggs, bread, butter, salt,pepper, horseradish, ham, and sausage.

    The food blessed in the church remains untouched until Sunday morning.

    Eggs / Pisanki, Kraszanki, Malowanki, Drapanki, Wyklejanki, Nalepianki

    The custom of coloring eggs for Easter is still observed in Polish custom. The eggs are decorated with many traditional Polish symbols of Easter. Most popular are lamb, cross, floral designs or Easter’s greetings such as Wesołego Alleluja. The eggs decorated with the use of treated wax are called “pisanki”. Another technique involved gluing colored paper or shiny fabric on them. The eggs which are painted in one color are called “malowanki” or “kraszanki”. If patterns are etched with a pointed instrument on top of the paint, the eggs are then called “skrobanki” or “rysowanki”.

  • Easter Sunday / Wielka NiedzielaOn Easter morning, a special Resurrection Mass is celebrated in every church in Poland. At this Mass, a procession of priests, altar boys and the people circles the church three times while the church bells peal and the organ is played for the first time since they had been silenced on Good Friday. Following the Mass, people return home to eat the food blessed the day before.The Easter table will be covered with a white tablecloth. On the middle of the table in most homes housewife will put colored eggs, cold meats, coils of sausages, ham, yeast cakes, pound cakes, poppy-seed cakes, and a lamb made of sugar. Polish Easter Soup called Żurek or White Barszcz is often served at the Easter meal, garnished with the hard-boiled eggs and sausage. There is also tradition to share blassed eggs with the members of the family and wish each other good health, happiness for the rest of the year.
  • Wet Monday / Lany PoniedzialekMonday (just after aster) is a holiday in Poland and is called in polish “Lany Poniedzialek” or “Śmingus- Dyngus”. This is a wonderful day of fun. The ancient Polish tradition on Easter Monday, is celebrated by everyone with enthusiasm by sprinkling each other with water. Especially kids have fun this day. Some people say that by being splashed with water on Easter Monday will bring you good luck throughout the year.

Happy Easter! Have a wonderful Day! Wesołych Świąt Wielkanocnych!

Do następnego razu… (Till next time…)