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9 things that are normal in Poland but seem weird elsewhere

9 things that are normal in Poland but seem weird elsewhere

European Business Listicle 14/2019

Typical Polish behavior might seem weird to other Europeans at some point. We have summarized 9 things that are normal in Poland but seem weird elsewhere. Have you ever celebrated your name day?

Names are a matter of bureaucracy

In Poland you can´t name your child anything you like. The final decision about what your child will be called rests with the Head of the Civil Registry Office. If the registrar thinks that the name is inappropriate, he may refuse to register your child. Although there is no official list with forbidden names in Poland, there are some names that are not recommended. Here are some examples: Carmen, Chiara, William, Sofia or Ole. If you want to give your child a not recommended name anyway, you have to go to court.

Killing dolls

Yes, it´s true what you just have read. In Poland it is not unusual to kill dolls. At the end of winter, Poles make human-sized dolls, called Marzanna. Marzanna is the goddess of death, nightmares and winter. The Marzanna is made of straw and shaped into a humanoid form. In some areas of the country, it is dressed in a wedding dress. The doll is sometimes drowned in a river, pond or lake. Some people set it on fire first. It takes place on the first day of spring, on March 21. On this day, killing dolls symbolizes killing the winter and welcoming spring. Today, the custom is very popular all over Poland. Many children in school take part in preparing the Marzanna. 

Kissing hands

Did you know that traditions mean a lot to Poles? Polish men kiss a woman´s hand if the occasion is very formal. This could be a first meeting or celebrating their name day.

Celebration of name days

Do you know when it's your name day? If do not know that in Poland, you need to find out asap. Poles like to celebrate name days in the same way that we celebrate birthdays. Make sure you call any friends, family members or colleagues called Maria on 2nd February or Anna on 26th July. If you are invited to a name day party, make sure you bring a small gift.

Get drunk

If you want to make sure that the people you hang out with are your friends, get drunk. Party hard at least once. Then you will see what kind of person he or she really is and if you can trust the person. While partying you get to know people better and make friends.

Pay for the toilet

Don´t be confused if you are asked to pay to use the toilet. Mostly it´s only a small amount of 1 or 2 zlotys (0.25 to 0.50 euros). In Poland it is common to pay each time you use a public restroom to support the cleaning service. Sometimes you are even asked to pay a fee in a restaurant or museum.

No sandwiches

You might be used to having sandwiches for lunch. In Poland people eat Kanapka, sliced bread served as an open sandwich. The Kanapka is first choice for breakfast, lunch and supper and you will find it in nearly every café, restaurant or bakery. The Kanapka can be garnished with a variety of foods.

Portable drying racks

Tumble dryers are not common in Poland. Instead, portable drying racks can be found in nearly every household. If someone doesn´t have a real laundry room, the drying racks are placed inside the flat or house. On a sunny day, these racks are put outside on the balcony or in the garden.

Keep your feet warm

In Poland you are asked to take off your shoes indoors. But don´t worry about cold feet – Poles are prepared with kapcies (slippers). Poles usually have a selection of different slippers so that visitors can put them on to keep their feet warm.

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