Polish cuisine bears traces of the country’s cosmopolitanism: the Jewish, German, Hungarian and Russian influences are very clear. Polish food is plentiful and substantial: thick soups, sauces, potatoes, meatballs, and few vegetables! The most famous national dishes are bigos (sauerkraut and meat) and barszcz (beet soup). You drink vodka (do not miss the buffalo vodka), but wine and beer make it more and more competitive today.
Poland is a deeply religious country: Poles are 90% Catholic. There is the existence of an Orthodox Church which, in 1596, decided to recognize the authority of Rome. It is the Uniate Church. The Orthodox Church (1.3% of the population) lives in the far east of the country. Finally, note the presence of old believers, a marginal current from orthodoxy. Jews, for their part, were almost wiped off the map during Hitler’s occupation.
Sculpture and painting were strongly influenced by the dominance of religion in Poland. This influence was notably reflected in the Gothic or Classical (Renaissance) representations of the Virgin or Christ in the innumerable churches that dot the country. Polish artists are famous for their work of ornamenting tombs. Among the contemporary artists who have escaped this religious influence is the unclassifiable Zdzislaw Beksinski (1929-2005), whose dream world is particularly intriguing. Contemporary Polish art gradually escapes the disastrous influence exercised by socialist realism in the aftermath of the Second World War.
Polish literature is not left out. Poland has produced many world-class writers: among contemporaries, Henryk Sienkiewicz, Nobel laureate in 1905, Stanislaw Ignacy Witkiewicz, precursor of the theater of the absurd, Bruno Schulz, whose stories open on fantastic universes, Witold Grombrowicz, who struggles in his novels and his theater against all stereotypes, Stawomir Mrozek, author of a theater of derision or Greslav Milosz, naturalized American, Nobel Prize in 1980. Isaac Bashevis Singer (Nobel Prize in 1978), who quickly emigrated to the United States, bequeathed a colorful work that restores with force the universe now disappeared from the Yiddish world. Polish cinema also occupies an important place on the world stage, with writers such as Andrzej Wajda,
Poles are known for their conservatism and traditionalism, which is a reality. Their hospitality, based on the adage: “A host at home is God in the house”, is not a usurped notion. Note that this people is not reputed, however, for its punctuality. When you are invited to a private home, arrive a little late to find your host at the stove.
Polish belongs to the West Slavic family (with Czech and Slovak). The most widely spoken foreign languages are German and English, but it is useful to master a few Polish words to travel across the country, especially outside major cities.
Poland: Festivals and festivals
As in the artistic field, the Polish festive calendar is inspired by the religious. The Catholic festivals give rise to manifestations of religious fervor like no other in Europe. This is particularly the case for the Christmas and Easter celebrations. But every Sunday is a festival in itself in Poland, where you have to go to the church to take the measure of the religiosity of the Poles.
In the cultural field itself, there are several events to report. Among them: the Old Krakow Music Festival in August. Warsaw, the capital, attracts many cultural events, including musical (in October, organization of many concerts, jazz in particular). In January, the Warsaw Theater Meetingsgroup the best creations of the past months. Finally, in November, in Gdynia, there is an excellent film festival.
New Year (1st of January), Easter, Labor Day (1st of May), National Day – anniversary of the Consitution of 1791 (3rd of May), Assumption, All Saints Day, Independence Day (11th of November), Christmas (25th and 26th) December)
Poland is considered a rather safe country, and it is possible to travel there with cash on one without fear of getting robbed at the first corner. Travelers’ checks are easy to change. Credit cards have spread very rapidly since the end of communism. They can be used to pay for the majority of quality restaurants and hotels, as well as car rental agencies or railway stations and airports.