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Polish Culture: Beyond Pierogi and Cabbage
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.
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.
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).
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Thank you for reading! Now, a little bit about modern Poland and its history.
Map of Poland Showing Geographical Position
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 - PolandClick thumbnail to view full-size
Chocholow - a village near Zakopane in the Polish GÃ³ral highlands - Close-by a popular Polish-Slovak border crossing
ChocholÃ³w, 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 (gÃ³ralskie 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 ChocholÃ³w 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
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
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
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
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.
- Polish Culture Forum - Polish People & Polish History
Polish People & Polish History - Features an ongoing discussion of Polish Saints
- St. Casimir of Poland
March 4 Patron saint of Poland and Lithuania, some say Russia. Born in 1458 or 1460; canonized in 1522 by Pope Adrian VI. The third of thirteen children of King Casimir IV and Elizabeth of Austria, daughter of Albert II of Hapsburg born in the royal
- St. Stanislaus, bishop and martyr
Stanislaus, Bishop & Martyr Memorial - April 11th St. Stanislaus was born at Szczepanw, in the Diocese of Cracow, July 26, 1030.
- Blessed Helen of Poland
Blessed Jolenta (Yolanda or Helen) of Poland, also Helen of Hungary June 12, (some sources say June 11; others June 15)
- St. Kateri Tekawitha - Lily of the Mohawks
July 14 St. Kateri Tekakwitha Beatified by Pope John Paul II; Canonized by Pope Benedict on 10/21/2012. Why include a native North American woman among a list of Polish saints? Many Poles venerate Kateri Tekakwitha.
- St. Kunigunde
Memorial Day - July 24 Sister to Blessed Jolenta of Poland
- The Black Madonna of Czestochowa: Queen of Poland
August 26 is the day observed as the Feast Day of the Black Madonna of Czestochowa because it was on this day in 1382 that the icon was placed by Prince Ladislaus of Belz in the small Church of The Assumption that stood on Jasna Gora.
- St. Maria Faustina Kowalska
October 5 St. Maria Faustina's name is linked to the annual feast of the Divine Mercy (celebrated on the Second Sunday of Easter), the divine mercy chaplet and the divine mercy prayer recited each day by many people at 3 p.m.
- St. John Paul II
October 22 is the feast day of Blessed John Paul II (1920-2005). It is celebrated each year in Rome and the dioceses of Poland and in the U.S. This is the day on which he was inaugurated as pope in 1978.
- Blessed Honoratus Kozminski (1825-1916)
December 16 Blessed Honoratus Kozminski (1825-1916) was born in Biala Podlaska (Siedlce, Poland) and studied architecture at the School of Fine Arts in Warsaw. Given name was Wenceslaus. In 1848 he received the Capuchin habit and a new name.
- St. John Kanty (Cantus) - (23 June 1390 - 24 December 1473)
December 24 A Polish saint for Christmas...Jon died on December 24 in Krakow where he had spent most of his entire adult life teaching at the Jagellonian University. John's motto: "Conturbare cave: non est placare suave, Infamare cave; nam revocare
"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.
Poland's Cities and Countryside in Pictures - Websites Available in a Variety of Languages
- Daniel Schultz the Younger
Page about Daniel Schultz the Younger, the most important and famous Polish Baroque painter born in Gdansk about 1615. Paintings reflect the countryside as well as people of the Baroque period.
- An Archive of Pictures of Poland
An incredible archive of pictures of modern Poland. Some of these are of little known spots as well as the more typical tourist areas.
- Site dedicated to the black stork.
The monitoring of the migration to Africa of the black stork. Includes tools to make it easier for you to follow this journey, with a lot of interactivity and useful information as possible.
- Jasna Gora - Sanktuarium -
Sanctuary of the Mother of God at Jasna Gora (Bright/Shining Hill) at Czestochowa Referred to as "Our Lady of Czestochowa" The miraculous painting of Our Lady, Mother of God, is Jasna GÃ³ra's most valuable treasure. Jasna GÃ³ra is now Poland's most
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.
Do you collect Polish pottery?
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.
- 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.
Little Known Warsaw
- The Warsaw UpRising
Here is some agonizing history about the major Polish uprisings started in Warsaw: The Kosciuszko`s Insurection -1794 The November Uprising -1830/31 The January Uprising - 1863 And the one in 1944. Feelings run strongly about the Warsaw Uprising of
Polonia in the United States - Polish-American Communities
A Visit to Poland
A Visit to Poland
Have you ever thought about visiting Poland?
An Informative Feast for the Tourist
Torun Gingerbread with Rose Hip Jelly Filling
Rendering of an Idealized Polish Christmas Weigela found on an Envelope of Oplatek
More Recipes and Information for a Polish Christmas Eve Celebration
Links to more information about Polish Christmas Eve (Wiegelia / Wigilia)