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Polish Culture: Beyond Pierogi and Cabbage

Updated on February 28, 2015
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A Delightful Introduction to Polish Culture

Poland - Land of Green and Golden Fields

Welcome to Polish Culture! This is one location on the Internet where you can read some short articles, find some interesting and often-times little known links and overall learn a little bit more about modern-day Poland and Polonia - people of Polish descent who live outside Poland.

LOCATION

Poland, located in central Europe, is bordered on the west by Germany, in the north by the Baltic Sea, on the north-east by Russia and Lithuania, on the east by Belarus and Ukraine, and on the south by Slovakia and the Czech Republic.

INCOME

Mining and manufacturing are the two largest industries, while services like retail, banking and finance, car services and food services like restaurants and cafeterias make up the rest of the economic output. Tourism continues to grow. Although the majority of tourists arrive from neighboring countries, American tourists showed the largest gains between 1995 and 1999 (the last years for which statistics seem to be available).

If you like what you find here tell your friends and rate this page; if you don't find what you are looking for or have ideas about what you'd like to see included here, leave me a comment at the bottom of the page. Also, be sure to vote in the Poll below.

Thank you for reading! Now, a little bit about modern Poland and its history.



Map of Poland Showing Geographical Position

Source

Some Little-known Facts About Poland

Tiny Poland, located in central Europe, maintains its position as a crossroads between eastern and western European countries and cultures. While Poland's national origins date to the 10th century, its borders have repeatedly shifted due to a history of aggression and warfare initiated by neighboring countries. Border changes at the end of World War II (1945) could have overwhelmed the national mentality and culture.

However, today, tiny Poland, the 8th most densely populated country in Europe, is a free democracy and looks to align itself with western countries. In 1999, Poland joined the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and in 2004, the European Union (EU). Its citizens welcome prosperity while continuing to develop and enhance for visitors the country's history, folk culture, impressive architecture and beautiful natural landscape.

Christmas Trees - Poland

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Christmas in Warsaw - 2012Christmas tree in front of Royal Palace, Warsaw - 2013Photo: Dan Ashbach
Christmas in Warsaw - 2012
Christmas in Warsaw - 2012
Christmas tree in front of Royal Palace, Warsaw - 2013Photo: Dan Ashbach
Christmas tree in front of Royal Palace, Warsaw - 2013 Photo: Dan Ashbach

Chocholow - a village near Zakopane in the Polish Góral highlands - Close-by a popular Polish-Slovak border crossing

Traditional Wooden Farmhouse and Outbuildings - ChochoÅów
Traditional Wooden Farmhouse and Outbuildings - ChochoÅów

Chocholów, a sixteenth century village in the Podhale region, looks as if it is part of a fairy tale. But it is actually a small village of wooden houses (góralskie chaty) whose residents work every day jobs like farming and logging. Along its main street one of the houses contains the public library, another houses a local woodcarver, while another the Museum of the 1846 Uprising of Chocholów against the Austrians. It is not a village crammed with tourists or souvenir shops, but one where it is possible to slowly walk along and admire the wooden architecture and construction, said to be the best in the region. The village has an approximate population of 1,135. A traditional yearly task for female residents is to scrub the wood of buildings until they gleam white.

Photo: Traditional Wooden Farm House and Outbuildings by Georgene A. Bramlage

Medieval Locations within Poland

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A marker16th century village -
Chocholow, Poland
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B markerBecame part of Poland in the 10th century -
Krakow, Poland
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C markerWarsaw, Poland Old Town -
Warsaw, Poland
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Completely destroyed during WWII, and rebuilt according to old drawings after the war.

Little Known Warsaw - Look carefully to find remnants and reconstructions of medieval time

History and Warsaw

History abounds in Warsaw, even though it was completely rebuilt after WWII. Here are some Warsaw sites few people mention or visit, but which are important to the Polish people:

  • Warsaw's Old Town Market Square and its surroundings, the Old Town (Stare Miasto, also called Starowka), is a reconstruction that contains many homes with their outdoor living spaces.
  • St. John's Cathedral was completely destroyed during WWII and recently rebuilt. Embedded in the wall along a side section and placed there as a memorial is a portion of a German small tank track used in one phase of the destruction.
  • The National Museum (Warsaw) holds a rich collection of Medieval art in permanent exhibition. There are works from Polish lands as well as pieces created in other prominent European art centers.

Photo: Christ in Distress, Pomerania, early 16th century, wood with paint; from the study collection of The National Museum in Warsaw

Musicians Dressed in Krakow's Regional Costume

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Krakow: The Perfect Polish Town

Krakow (Cracow) is one of the largest and oldest cities in Poland. It is also regarded by many, including residents, to be the cultural capital of Poland. It is the perfect Polish town to visit if you are "into" history. The city is relatively inexpensive and easy to reach via either train or plane. This city was not damaged much during World War II (1939-45). However, the Jewish population was basically annihilated. There is a lot for history buffs to see and admire. In 1978, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) placed Krakow on the list of World Heritage Sites. Krakow maintains the largest medieval intact marketplace in continental Europe.

A Central Point from Which to Explore the Region

Krakow is a good central point from which to reach other interesting places in central Poland such as the Beskid and Tatra Mountains; and historical places like the Auschwitz- Birkenau Concentration Camps, Wieliczka Salt Mines, and Jasna Gora with the Black Madonna of Czestochowa, and check out the McDonald's near the Florian Gate.

Some Other Highlights

1 - The Jagiellonian University is wonderful with old buildings, but more modern facilities are spread out over the city.

2 - The market square (Rynek Glowny) "comes alive" after about 9pm especially on the weekends There are bands, food, general good times; police crack down on rowdiness and drunks.

3 - There are lots of wonderful free and inexpensive classical music concerts.

4 - The Royal Wawel Castle, the Wawel Cathedral and archaeological ruins on the grounds.


Wawel Castle and Wawel Cathedral (left), Krakow

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The Kosciuszko Squadron and American Merian Caldwell Cooper - World War 1, Polish-Soviet War. World War 2

Translation...from Polish video..."Badge of the Kosciuszko Squadron was established as the emblem of the American airmen who came to help Poland in its struggle for independence. The thirteen stars and white and red stripes are symbols of the American War of Independence. Krakuska (Krakov-style) cap and crossed scythes symbolize the anti-Russian uprising of 1794. ...Kosciusko was...a famous patron of Polish and American struggle for independence. American volunteers from the "7 Fighting Squadron name of Tadeusz Kosciuszko" were famous in fighting...the Polish-Bolshevik War of 1920."

This long video, The Greatest Story Not Yet Told, posted December 29, 2011, asks for donations, but also tells an interesting story.

From video The Greatest Story Not Yet Told. "It has been said that we are only a generation away from forgetting our history. A vital part of that history is the personal accounts of heroes whose unselfish actions have contributed to the traditions and values that represent the soul of America. The mission of The Foundation to Illuminate America's Heroes--formed as an IRS-approved 501(c)3 non-profit public charity with tax deductible status--is to search for, discover and illuminate America's heroes both past and present."

From video "Battle of Britain Heroes. There is a long written segment about the Polish squadron from "A Question of Honor": The Kosciuszko Squadron: Forgotten Heroes of World War II LYNNE OLSON and STANLEY W. CLOUD"

Look here for more about Merian Caldwell Cooper

From Pope John Paul II to St. John Paul II

St. John Paul II reigned as pope of the Roman Catholic Church for almost 27 years.  He was formally beatified 1 May 2011 by Pope Benedict and canonized April 27, 2014 by Pope Francis.
St. John Paul II reigned as pope of the Roman Catholic Church for almost 27 years. He was formally beatified 1 May 2011 by Pope Benedict and canonized April 27, 2014 by Pope Francis.

Polish Saints - An Evolving Calender of Feastdays and Celebrations

As seasons roll around so do the feast days of saints recognized by the Roman Catholic Church. Nowhere else like Poland are the Church and People so connected. Here is a list I am slowly building of Polish saints, their feast days and some little known facts about them. This list of Polish saints, once completed, will read like a history, an animated history of Poland.

"Our Lady of Czestochowa" - "Queen of Poland"

The Miraculous Icon and Jasna Gora Monastery

This miraculous painting of Our Lady, Mother of God, in the style of an icon, is housed at the Jasna Gora (Shining or Luminous Hill) monastery. It is the monastery's most valuable treasure and is housed in the Chapel of the Virgin at the heart of the monastery. The image is painted on a board that measures 81.5 x 121.7 cm (approximately 32 x 48 inches) and shows (without the jeweled coverings) as in this illustration a standing Virgin holding the infant Christ. Jasna Gora is now Poland's most famous Marian shrine among the many others throughout Poland.

Polish Pottery

Really stoneware, the Polish pottery (Bolesławiec pottery) is traditionally made from white clay found in the Bolesławiec region of Poland. The pottery is fired twice at very high temperatures. Artisans use sponge stencils for hand stamping patterns onto the pottery. The eye of the peacock feather is a traditional designs and was a sign of prosperity and wealth. Polish pottery is durable and functional, although somewhat heavy in weight, It is conveniently amazing safe for use in the oven, microwave and dishwasher.

Polish Pottery

Do you collect Polish pottery?

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Polish Culture in Photography

Digital Images Made During Trips to Poland - Summers, 2005 & 2006

Some symbolic images of modern Poland found within my photographic images may be found at Pinterest.

They include:

  • Green and gold backgrounds represent Poland or Polanie, the Land of Fields / Living on the Field.
  • Our Lady of Czestochowa, Maximillian Kolbe, Pope John II, amber rosaries symbolize ties with and tradtions of the Roman Catholic Church.
  • Amber also represents a continuing source of commerce from prehistory to current times.
  • Solidarity represents the establishment of the first Autonomous Trades Unions and the official end to the Communist-dominated Polish People's Republic more than a quarter century ago.
  • Crocheted lace and pottery signify folk crafts as well as expanding international markets. They also represent the beautiful and tough women who have kept these crafts alive.

Polonia in the United States - Polish-American Communities

show route and directions
A markerAn area where many Poles came to work the coal fields in the late 1800s and early 1900s. -
Scranton, PA
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B markerBufffalo, NY -
Bufffalo, NY
get directions

C markerCleveland, OH -
Cleveland, OH
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D markerDetroit -
Detroit
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E markerChicago -
Chicago
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F markerTrenton, NJ -
Trenton, NJ
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G markerPana Maria, TX -
Pana Maria, TX
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A Visit to Poland

Krakow Skyline
Krakow Skyline | Source

A Visit to Poland

Have you ever thought about visiting Poland?

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An Informative Feast for the Tourist

Torun Gingerbread with Rose Hip Jelly Filling

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Rendering of an Idealized Polish Christmas Weigela found on an Envelope of Oplatek

More Recipes and Information for a Polish Christmas Eve Celebration

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    • GeorgeneMBramlage profile image
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      Georgene Moizuk Bramlage 3 years ago from southwestern Virginia

      @David Stone1: Hi Dave! Thanks for visiting the lens and learning a bit more. I hope that you and your wife might visit this beautiful and historical country.

    • David Stone1 profile image

      David Stone 3 years ago from New York City

      Always nice to learn more about Poland, my wife's family's homeland.

    • GeorgeneMBramlage profile image
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      Georgene Moizuk Bramlage 4 years ago from southwestern Virginia

      @Erin Mellor: Hi Erin! Thanks for visiting and for your comment. Like beauty, I guess tiny is all in the eyes of the beholder :+) I can't speak to the Polish population of Coventry, but Detroit is definitely ahead of Cleveland where I grew up.

    • Erin Mellor profile image

      Erin Mellor 4 years ago from Europe

      To an English person describing Poland as "tiny" seems very strange! Having spent a lot of my life in Coventry, and Detroit before now I've mostly lived in cities with large Polish populations - and great Polish deli's. When JPII visited Coventry it was a wild celebration.

    • GeorgeneMBramlage profile image
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      Georgene Moizuk Bramlage 4 years ago from southwestern Virginia

      @smine27: Hi! Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting. The history of Poland, like that of Israel, is unique because of its geographical location as well as the determination of its people.

    • smine27 profile image

      Shinichi Mine 4 years ago from Tokyo, Japan

      I would love to visit Poland one of these days. It looks like such a beautiful place with a fascinating history.

    • delia-delia profile image

      Delia 5 years ago

      Although my memory is very faint one of my Christmas' that I do remember was when I lived in Poland for a short time during the war, in a Castle named Gross Stein (Kamien Slaski) near Opole (Oppeln) in Silesia (see my lens)

      ~d-artist Squid Angel Blessing~

    • GeorgeneMBramlage profile image
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      Georgene Moizuk Bramlage 5 years ago from southwestern Virginia

      @greg2biz2: Hi! Thanks very much for visiting, commenting on this lens ans squidliking it. I appreciate it very much.

    • greg2biz2 profile image

      greg2biz2 5 years ago

      I like your lens very much.

    • GeorgeneMBramlage profile image
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      Georgene Moizuk Bramlage 5 years ago from southwestern Virginia

      @LaraineRoses: Hi Laraine, Thanks so much for your gracious comments, the squidlike and especially the blessing :+) These mean so much coming from such an accomplished lens (article) master as yourself. I am especially happy that you found this lens interesting - it is one of my favorites!

    • LaraineRoses profile image

      Laraine Sims 5 years ago from Lake Country, B.C.

      I will be having a look at more of your lenses. You have mastered the art of organization and I found this lens very interesting. Thank you!

    • GeorgeneMBramlage profile image
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      Georgene Moizuk Bramlage 5 years ago from southwestern Virginia

      @anonymous: It is beautiful...outside of the modern industrial parts. It can, however, become a little gray in the cold of winter. Perhaps you need to start a "bucket list" for travel :+)

    • TreasuresBrenda profile image

      Treasures By Brenda 5 years ago from Canada

      Thanks for sharing this information about Poland & the culture there.

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      anonymous 5 years ago

      Poland looks like a beautiful country. It would be nice to see it in person.

    • GeorgeneMBramlage profile image
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      Georgene Moizuk Bramlage 5 years ago from southwestern Virginia

      @TreasuresBrenda: Hi Brenda, Thanks for visiting this lens, squidliking and commenting about it. I appreciate your taking time to visit...

    • GeorgeneMBramlage profile image
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      Georgene Moizuk Bramlage 5 years ago from southwestern Virginia

      @PhotographicStu: Thank you so much for visiting this lens and for your gracious comments. Both are very much appreciated.

    • PhotographicStu profile image

      PhotographicStu 5 years ago

      What a lovely lens! great information and images, very nice indeed

    • GeorgeneMBramlage profile image
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      Georgene Moizuk Bramlage 5 years ago from southwestern Virginia

      @Rosaquid: Dear Rosa, Thanks so much for visiting and for your participation in the lens. Actually cabbage, sauerkraut and pierogi are three of my favorite foods also :+)

    • GeorgeneMBramlage profile image
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      Georgene Moizuk Bramlage 5 years ago from southwestern Virginia

      @Elsie Hagley: Hi Elsie, Thanks so much for visiting, for your gracious words and for letting me know where the link came from. Very interesting!

    • Elsie Hagley profile image

      Elsie Hagley 5 years ago from New Zealand

      Nice lens, you have done a great job. Thanks for sharing. You may be interested that I came to this site from a email from Google+.

    • Rosaquid profile image

      Rosaquid 5 years ago

      Lovely lens, I enjoyed the quiz! Incidentally, I do love cabbage, sauerkraut and pierogi, too.

    • GeorgeneMBramlage profile image
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      Georgene Moizuk Bramlage 5 years ago from southwestern Virginia

      @kindoak: Thank you very much for visiting my lens and leaving this comment. I am glad that you enjoyed it.

    • kindoak profile image

      kindoak 5 years ago

      Polande is very nice, passed through there on a motorcycle trip many years ago. Lovely landscape!

    • WriterJanis2 profile image

      WriterJanis2 5 years ago

      I'd love to visit there.

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      sandi_x 5 years ago

      Great lens

    • Michey LM profile image

      Michey LM 5 years ago

      great lens and memory for me. Thanks

    • GeorgeneMBramlage profile image
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      Georgene Moizuk Bramlage 5 years ago from southwestern Virginia

      @Michey LM: So glad to hear that you've visited Poland and that you have good memories of your time there. Thanks so much for visiting my lens.

    • Millionairemomma profile image

      Millionairemomma 5 years ago

      I have never been there but now I would like to go! Excellent job.

    • Cari Kay 11 profile image

      Kay 5 years ago

      Love this! I have some polish ancestry and have been reading everything I can about the country. Your photos are wonderful as well!

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      JoshK47 5 years ago

      I always love learning about other cultures, and you put this lens together wonderfully! Blessed by a SquidAngel!

    • GeorgeneMBramlage profile image
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      Georgene Moizuk Bramlage 5 years ago from southwestern Virginia

      @Blackspaniel1: Thanks for stopping by!

    • Blackspaniel1 profile image

      Blackspaniel1 5 years ago

      Nice lens

    • GeorgeneMBramlage profile image
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      Georgene Moizuk Bramlage 5 years ago from southwestern Virginia

      @TTMall: Thanks for stopping by!

    • TTMall profile image

      TTMall 5 years ago

      It looks very helpful. Thank you very much!

    • greenmind profile image

      GreenMind 5 years ago from USA

      Nice lens! I live in Chicago, lots of great Polish culture here.

    • perrybenard profile image

      perrybenard 5 years ago

      wonderful lens, Poland looks beautiful, like a movie, great info

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Returning with an angle blessing for this excellent tribute to Polish culture, it was a treat to walk through once again!

    • profile image

      Lindrus 5 years ago

      Thank you for this interesting lens about Poland. I really enjoyed it!

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      Teri Villars 6 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      When I lived in Europe, I wanted to visit but it was still a Communist country so it was not easy to travel there, especially since I was in the military. I think it is a pretty country, such as East Germany and Czech. Great lens and photos! Blessed!

    • Leilani-m profile image

      Leilani-m 6 years ago

      Lovely lens! I always like to learn about other countries.

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      anonymous 6 years ago

      I enjoyed the love of Poland that is so evident at every turn here, it was a pleasure to take this little virtual visit. I grew up with Polish polka music in our home on a pretty regular basis and just realized that I really don't know much about this beautiful country. So very well done!

    • sousababy profile image

      sousababy 6 years ago

      Thank you for sharing such an enriching history of Polish culture. Love the music!

    • GeorgeneMBramlage profile image
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      Georgene Moizuk Bramlage 6 years ago from southwestern Virginia

      @anonymous: Thanks so much for visiting and for your kind remarks. Very glad you enjoyed my lens. Cercis

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      I surely enjoyed the music you had playing when opening your lens, it felt like the right music on your topic, was happy to award you with a 'thumbs up'!

    • GeorgeneMBramlage profile image
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      Georgene Moizuk Bramlage 6 years ago from southwestern Virginia

      Thank you SaintFrantic and Ilona1 for visiting this lens and leaving your comments. Dziekuje! Cercis

    • Ilonagarden profile image

      Ilona E 6 years ago from Ohio

      I really enjoyed this insightful look into Poland and Polish culture. Lovely.

    • SaintFrantic profile image

      SaintFrantic 6 years ago

      Thanks for sharing this information about one of the oldest European country.I want to visit some day.

    • GeorgeneMBramlage profile image
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      Georgene Moizuk Bramlage 6 years ago from southwestern Virginia

      @KimGiancaterino: Thanks for visiting, Kim, and for your comments. Poland is a great country to visit whether you like city night life or the countryside. I actually grew up in Cleveland, but parents moved away from the "old neighborhood" when I was four-years-old. I still absorbed a lot through my family and our celebrations.

    • KimGiancaterino profile image

      KimGiancaterino 6 years ago

      I've never been to Poland, but would like to someday. One of my closest friends is from a Polish community in Cleveland, Ohio. Great resources here!

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 6 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Been to Warsaw and I love it. Each summer we drive through Wilno, the first Polish settlement in Canada.

    • Tiggered profile image

      Tiggered 6 years ago

      Interesting to see Poland through American eyes. Very good book recommendations, but blessed Kateri Tekawitha swept me off my feet. Might be someone known only to American Polonia? Squidlike for interesting idea.

    • Kiwisoutback profile image

      Kiwisoutback 7 years ago from Massachusetts

      Thanks for compiling this all together, this is helpful. Great photos you've taken, too. I'm part Polish and know little about my ancestry! AND I'm from Massachusetts, too.

      I just featured this lens on my Polish t-shirts lens.

    • GeorgeneMBramlage profile image
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      Georgene Moizuk Bramlage 7 years ago from southwestern Virginia

      @anonymous: Thank you very much for your kind words...

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      anonymous 7 years ago

      Good lens and information.

      dual action polisher

    • GeorgeneMBramlage profile image
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      Georgene Moizuk Bramlage 8 years ago from southwestern Virginia

      [in reply to HistoryHussar]

      Thank you very much for your kind comments.

      Mitchener's book is relatively accurate. My favorite part is about preparing food for a party and how every single scrap is used.

    • profile image

      HistoryHussar 8 years ago

      Thanks, Cercis, for listing many sources of info on Polish culture and history. I once read Mitchner's book called Poland and don't know how accurate it is but it certainly gave me reason to admire the long history and resilient spirit of the Polish people. One day I will visit Poland.

    • GeorgeneMBramlage profile image
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      Georgene Moizuk Bramlage 8 years ago from southwestern Virginia

      [in reply to LaurieBeth]

      Hi Laura Beth,

      Thanks for the feedback and the lensroll on your Italian-American lens.

      Best for the holidays, Cercis (aka Georgene)

    • profile image

      LaurieBeth33 8 years ago

      Hey, great job! Five stars and a lensroll on my Italian-American Culture lens. Happy Holidays! <3

    • Spiritus LM profile image

      Spiritus LM 9 years ago

      Love your lens my friend !

      PS Pierogi Ruskie are my favourite !!

      travel guide to Poland

    • GeorgeneMBramlage profile image
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      Georgene Moizuk Bramlage 10 years ago from southwestern Virginia

      Katrina, Thanks for your kind words!

    • Katrina LM profile image

      Katrina LM 10 years ago

      Nice and informative lens!

      Katrina

      Katerina's Healthy Greek Recipes