What brings you good or bad luck?

Posted on 16. Jul, 2012 by in Calendar, Countries, Culture, Holidays, Languages, Phrases, Polish Language, traditions

There are beliefs that particular events, rituals, actions and objects bring good or bad luck. Poland, like any other culture, has its own superstitions.

❋ Number 13 (numer 13, pechowa trzynastka)

In Poland many people are superstitious about the number 13, especially of Friday 13th. They believe that the best way to avoid bad luck is to stay at home and do nothing this day.

❋ Black cat crossing the street (czarny kot przechodzi przez ulicę)

If you see a black cat crossing your way you should stop and make three steps backwords. However, if you ignore this belief and go forward you can be unlucky.

❋ Avoiding the ladder (unikanie drabiny)

You can spot people trying to omit the ladder as they try to avoid passing under it, which might also bring bad luck during the rest of the day.

❋ Broken mirror (rozbite lustro)

If you break the mirror it probably brings you bad luck. Then you will be unhappy for seven years.

❋ Forgetting something (zapominanie czegoś)

If you happen to forget something from home and you must go back to retrieve it, you better sit down for a moment and count to ten.

❋ “knocking on the wood” (odpukać w drewno)

A widespread superstition in Poland is “knocking on wood”. If you want to succeed in something or are afraid of a sudden change of fortune, you could knock on wood to scare bad luck away.

❋ Do not put handbag on the floor (nie kładź torebki na podłodze)

 If a woman puts her handbag on the floor, she will have no money.

❋ Hat on a bed (czapka/kapelusz na na łóżku)

Some people think that if you put a hat on a bed you will have bad luck.

❋ Left lega (lewa noga)

We shouldn’t start our day with left leg, because it brings us bad mood.

❋ A chimney-sweep (kominiarz)

When you see a chimney-sweep in the street, you have to grab your button (hopefully you have one at that particular moment – on your wardrobe, bag, etc). According to the saying, only by grabbing it, you will be guaranteed to have good luck.

❋ Rainbow (tęcza)

If you see a rainbow in the sky you should find the end of it, and then you will find a pan with plenty of coins. You can become rich.

❋ Red underwear (czerwona bielizna)

Students wear red underwear on traditionally ball which is organized a hundred days before final Matura exams (the ball is called studniówka, equivalent to prom), next they must wear it on the exam.

❋ Lucky objects ( obiekty przynoszące szczęście)

People also believe of the magic power of lucky objects such as horse shoes, elephants with raise trunk or a four-leaf clover. Many superstitious people wear talismans, carry lucky stones to chose away evil spirits. Students often bring their lucky pens or favorite toys to exams and brides wear something blue, new, old and borrowed from happily married women for the weeding ceremony.

❋ Thumbs (kciuki)

When you want something to really happen and you really have hopes for it, you should keep your fingers crossed

❋ Spilling the salt (rozsypanie soli)

As for the spilling salt superstition, known of bringing quarrels, it has its own history, that dates back to Middle Ages when salt was very expensive. Only the richest could afford to buy this rare spice. You can imagine a huge quarrel when a servant spilt it. This is why people remembered salt spilling as a bringer of a bad luck.

❋ Wedding superstitions (przesądy ślubne)

There are some Polish superstitions related to weddings.  First of all, it is good if the wedding is in a month that has the letter “R” in its name while it is considered bad luck to have it in May (although my husband and I got married in May and we are really happy!). Secondly, the day before the wedding the bride should put her shoes on the window sill to have nice weather for the next day. The bride’s bouquet should not have roses in it since sharp spikes symbolize a cut on the heart (ha ha…! Mine had maroon roses and maroon calla lilies in it…I guess I’m not really superstitious). It is also important not to be seen by your future husband in a gown and also not to look at your reflection in the mirror when you are completely dressed. What is more, there should be money in the bride’s shoes to assure wealth. And here is a little tip: if you want to rule in your upcoming marriage throw delicately a patch of your dress on the groom’s shoes while kissing in front of the altar. At that moment you will gain the power of deciding!

❋ Holiday superstitions (przesądy świąteczne)

For example Christmas: it is believed that if the first person to enter a house on a Christmas Eve is a woman, it is a bad omen, thus is it more preferable when a man is the first to cross the threshold of the house. During supper on Christmas Eve, each dish has to be sampled. A traditional meal consists of twelve dishes. The more you eat, the more pleasure will await you in the upcoming year.

Superstitions are still present among Polish people. There is something funny about them and mysterious at the same time. Although, to contemporary, well-educated people the word “superstition” can sound offensive and ridiculous, somewhere inside we believe in them. There is an anecdote that even Albert Einstein had a horseshoe nailed above his door. Somebody asked him, “You, man of education and a physics genius believe in this superstition?” To which he replied, “No, but apparently it works even if you don’t believe it”.

Do następnego razu… (Till next time…)

Łazienki Park & Palace

Posted on 15. Jul, 2012 by in Culture, History, Nature, Places to visit

What a great place to visit, while you are in Warsaw! The Royal Łazienki Museum consists of a palace and garden complex, which stretches within the area of nearby 80 hectares.

The origins of Łazienki date back to the of the 17th century. In 1764 Ujazdów became the property of Stanisław August Poniatowski – the last king of Poland, who established his summer residence there and gave it its general appearance.

During the partitions of Poland, when the Łazienki were taken over by the tsar’s court, the Belveder was reconstructed and several pavilions, also in classicist style were built.

In December 1944 the Germans burnt the Palace on the Isle, drilling nearly a thousand holes in its walls for dynamite, intending to blow it up. Fortunately, they didn’t have time to do it. After the war the Palace on the Isle was thoroughly reconstructed.

Today, the Royal Łazienki Residence fulfils functions of a museum and the garden, being visited by a throng of tourists from the country and the entire world, at the same time serving as a splendid promoter of culture. The park is not only a must see venue for the tourists, but also the favorite Sunday destination for the Varsovians.

It took over two decades, starting from 1772, to metamorphose the baroque Bathhouse to the classicist Palace on the Isle, with the picturesque southern facade and the monumental northern one adorned with a column portico. The last king of Poland shaped the Łazienki in the classicist style, however, he bestowed upon it an individual hallmark, in accordance with his own aesthetic concept. For this reason it is named the Stanislaus August style.

On the shore of the southern pond, the initially an earthy Amphitheatre with the stage on an island, was replaced in 1790 by a new stone one modelled on the ancient Herculaneum. The stage was enriched by decorations imitating antique ruins of the Forum Romanum, whereas the auditorium was adorned with the statues of famous playwrights mounted on the attic.

The Royal Orangery, erected in 1786-88 on the plan of the rectangular horseshoe, with the southern facade of the core structure broken up by pilasters and arcaded great windows, houses the magnificent interior, ranked among the most notable international examples of authentic 18th-century manorial theatres. The theatre’s interior is made of wood. The auditorium, consisting of stalls and surrounding balconies, is richly decorated with paintings. Walls between the balconies, divided by twin pilasters, are adorned with female statues holding chandeliers. Also the Royal Orangery houses the famous Gallery of Polish Sculpture (XVI – XX c.). It is unique Gallery of this kind in Poland.

Every Sunday from May to September at 12 am and 4 pm you can listen to the Chopin concerts that are organized next to Chopin Monument located in the Łazienki Park. It is usually pretty crowded, but worth seeing! So, if you love classic music, definitely reserve some time on one of the Sundays:)

Do następnego razu… (Till next time…)

Stereotypes about Poles

Posted on 14. Jul, 2012 by in Countries, Culture, Geography, History, traditions

A lot of people all over the worlds have a negative feeling about Polish people, but not only. Now, I may need your help here…I will write about things I heard, but if there is something else you may know or think of – let us know in comments!

First of all, Polish people are thought to be a lazy nation ( I obviously do not agree – I think we are really hardworking – with exceptions of course)

Secondly others say that Poles are unfair.

Polish people are very religious – Catholics.

Lots of people use to say that: “Pole can do everything well if he only wants to”. Polish people are handy and skilful then.

Poles are sociable and love parties.

Poles are taken as brave (love freedom), patriotic and nationalistic.

Poland is a home of Solidarity which had a great share in subverting the communistic system.

Poland is believed to be a poor country (not exactly true though…)

The most famous stereotype, which unfortunately became a kind of pervert is “to drink (alcohol) like Pole”.

According to this: Polish farmers are believed to work very hard on their farms and because of cold climate they have to drink vodka to get warmer.

Polish people speak difficult language.

Another feature is bribery and corruption.

Europeans consider Polish kitchen to be unique and healthy.

The nicest stereotype concerns kissing when they greet people. Poles are hospitable.

Polish people are said to be fond of color clothes.

People in the whole world think that Poles are prejudiced about Jews and black people. Also in Poland there are hooligans who attacking foreigners.

Poles are said to be thieves. Especially in the area of theft cars. There is even a joke: If your car was stolen, you should go to Poland. It surely would be there.

Polish jokes are quite popular.

Polish people are truthly attached to their traditions.

All in all, there are many stereotypes about Polish people but we should take it with a pinch of salt.

However, we also have to remember that there is an element of truth in every saying.

So what is true?

Polish people are very patriotic – they love their country and they have unbelievable sense of pride. We can see it on the 2nd World War example.

Ninety-five percent of Poles describe themselves as religious people. Poland is a Catholic country and Pope – John Paul the 2nd who is believed to be a great authority comes from Poland.

That is true that Polish people are handy and skilful. They are good builders, mechanics; they are good with their hands.

Poles are sociable and they just love to party. And it is true that Polish people are drinking Vodka or even “Spirit” (95%) from time to time – especially on parties. They like to celebrate everything with alcohol.

Anywhere you will go, anybody you will talk to will tell that Poles are hospitable, always take care about their guests, they are nice and kind. They like to say: ”Guest at home – God at home”.

Polish people remember about their traditions.

Poland is rich in traditions. They organize a lot of festivals and holidays. Poles love good food, they like to play, sing and dance.

The reason for holiday can be for example: the opening of the tourist season in mountains – holiday of the Queen of Dunajec

The most attached to traditions are Polish country people. Every region has its own traditions – for the special occasions people were the colourful folk clothes. The most famous are Kaszub’s and Mountain’s people.

Poles were building their traditions for over 1500 years.

Polish people speak difficult language.

About Polish food.

Of course Poland like every country has its own traditions. Poles have quite different times of meals. Breakfast at 7-8 o’clock. They don’t have lunch – just a snack and about 2 o’clock usually they eat the main meal of a day – dinner. It usually consists of 2 dishes: first course – the soup and the main course. The supper is about 7 o’clock.

Quite a common dish in the morning is cornflakes with milk, different type of sandwiches and toasts, cold cuts and cheeses.

About the main courses: well known in Europe is Hunter’s Bigos and Schabowy – cutlet with tomatoes and vegetables.

They say in Poland: the way to a human is by the stomach.

Polish food has good reputation with foreign visitors.

What aspects aren’t true?

Most of the stereotypes about Poles are untrue and very wrongful.

Foreigners say that Polish people are poor. It’s false. They are not very rich nation but they aren’t poor. If you go there you will notice that Polish People have new and expensive cars such as: BMW, Mercedes, Audi…and others. They have modern houses. Even some of the Germans says that in Poland people have a better standard at home than in some European Union countries.

What is true – that is quite difficult to find good and a well-paid job even if somebody is well-educated.

Another thing is: Polish people are not thieves!!! Due to a few thieves behaviour we can’t say it about all nation!!!

It must be said that Poles are tolerant toward immigrants with different backgrounds.
Poland is a very open country!

As for bribery and corruption…unfortunately true, although it is getting better in recent years!

Do następnego razu… (Till next time…)