Polish Language Blog

Doing business in Poland – do they know it is lunchtime? Posted by on Feb 3, 2012 in Culture

When you’re abroad, never assume that your habits are the same as those of your business partner or client. In Poland, as in many other countries, even mealtimes are different.

Breakfast, Second Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner and Supper  – that’s usually the order.

Many British business people are caught out by the Polish second breakfast tradition. They decline the first because it’s too early and are ‘faint with lack of nourishment’ by the second. It’s just the Polish way of doing things. After a light breakfast, called śniadanie, before leaving home for work in the early morning, Poles eat a second breakfast any time between 10 am and 1 pm, which replaces the British lunch, and then work straight through until they finish work.

In fact, most people stay at the office during the British lunch hour and are not in the habit of going out to buy something to eat; they bring whatever they fancy eating for ‘second breakfast’ from home. The lunch culture is spreading more widely now, because there are more representatives of foreign businesses, particularly in large cities, where business culture is changing and more people work with foreigners.

Lunch, in fact called “obiad”, is usually eaten at home with family any time between 4 pm and 5.30 pm, and the hours depend on how quickly one gets back home. Some non-Polish business people admit to being caught out by this. The answer, when you know it, is simple. Have a good breakfast and take a piece of fruit or a snack to keep you going. Poles have another meal after their lunch “obiad” meal, called “kolacja”, which means supper. It is a light meal, usually a small sandwich or snack with tea any time in the evening.

So, in fact, if you are invited to a restaurant for a meal it could be either “obiad”, a midday meal ( a substitute for a late lunch) or “kolacja”, supper in the evening , both of which will be very elaborate and rich, as Poles are known for their hospitality not only at their homes but also when inviting guests to restaurants.

Do następnego razu… (Till next time…)

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About the Author: Kasia

My name is Kasia Scontsas. I grew near Lublin, Poland and moved to Warsaw to study International Business. I have passion for languages: any languages! Currently I live in New Hampshire. I enjoy skiing, kayaking, biking and paddle boarding. My husband speaks a little Polish, but our daughters are fluent in it! I wanted to make sure that they can communicate with their Polish relatives in our native language. Teaching them Polish since they were born was the best thing I could have given them! I have been writing about learning Polish language and culture for Transparent Language’s Polish Blog since 2010.