Poland – various regions, various faces

Everyone will agree that every country is diverse. There are differences between the behavior of people living in the east and west coast of the US. It is generally known that the north part of France is characterised by a different dialect and specific way of living. Poland is not an exception in this case. It is a country of rich culture and art, beautiful architecture and various but excellent cuisine – all of that results from complex history of Polish nation and its openness to European influence.

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Poland – form the blue Baltic Sea to blue sky in Tatra Mountains

Would you like to learn more about Poland? Keep reading! Poland is known for its richness and diversity of landscapes. Every region is remarkable and original in a way. There are lots of wide and sandy beaches, beautiful lake lands and various mountain ranges – mountains that are lower, older, experienced and those younger, more impudent and with pride looking in the sky. People living in these districts are as diverse as the landscapes they live in. In Poland there are a lot of ethnic minorities. The most popular are Silesians, Kashubians, Gorals and Masurians – the last ones known more from the literature, unfortunately, than from modern life. How can those ethnic minorities be distinguished between and where can one find them? The easiest way is to look at Poland from north (the Baltic Sea) to south (mountains).

 

The Kashubians – minority with rich culture

The Kashubians live in a small part of northern part of Poland, in Pomerania. A unique feature of this ethnic minority is that they do not use a local dialect but they have their own language characterised by its own alphabet and melody. Kashubian language was based on old Slavic languages and it is the only one that stood the test of time and is used nowadays.
The calling card of this region is a snuff, especially snuff boxes which shapes resemble horns.

Kashubian region is known for floral ornaments, especially tulips, that are present on pottery and all clothes wearing by both men and women. There have been embroidery schools still working in this region until today! Kashubian cuisine is characterised by its simplicity. The most popular and traditional dishes are potatoes prepared in many different ways, swede soup and herrings. Interestingly enough, Kashubian feast begins always with sweet dishes that are mainly associated with a dessert in Polish cuisine!
The majority of customs and events is largely based on folk beliefs and calendar of Catholic holidays.

 

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Masurians – multicultural society

Masurians lived in the eastern part of Poland, in Masuria Land. Masuria is probably the most renowned Polish landscape in the world, since it was promoted by the media for its outstanding natural features; the region was also a candidate in the competition for new 7 wonders of nature. Masurian landscape is characterised for its specific town planning – wooden cottages with roofs made of straw, buildings made of brick with tiled roofs and avenues lined with beautiful trees. The region was located in a place where Prussian, German and Polish cultures met. That is why Masurian dialect is a mixture of Prussian, German and Polish language. People living in this region are confessors of different religions – Catholicism, Lutheranism and Orthodoxy.

 

Sliesians – proud of their work under the surface

Silesians live in the south of Poland; it is easy to identify them because of their characteristic black clothes and caps with feathers. Why do their clothes look like that? These are gala uniforms of miners and steelworkers (these job are the most popular in Silesia). Despite the fact that people living in this region wear dark clothes, one can easily say that they are cheerful and very musical. A great number of Silesian traditions have their roof in Catholicism, e.g. work full of pathos. Silesian cuisine is characterised by its diversity – it is a mixture of Polish, Czech and Polish cuisines. People living in this region also speak in their own dialect that very often cannot be understood even by somebody living next to Sielsia.
Highlanders – lively people from mountain region
While looking for Highlanders (Gorals), one has to go to beautiful mountain trails in the south of Poland. In the past a Goral should have spent the whole time for working in pastures with sheep in a little cottage located within pastures, with no access to water or electricity. This region is renowned for oscypek – smoked goat’s cheese. Gorals who do not occupy themselves with grazing sheep can be met on many Polish ski slopes. How do we know that we are in the region where Gorals live? Nothing could be simpler!
Even if one does not understand their speech, everyone can easily recognise them because Gorals very often wear huts made of felt (decorated with small shells and a feather of a falcon), bandits’ belts and special wooden walking sticks– ciupaga. When you meet Gorals, they will definitely invite you to their house with high, sloped roof covered with shingle. You will eat a lot of dumplings that are very popular in the whole world and different types of meat. For the dessert everyone will get a cake with cheese and poppy – kołacz.

Konrad Kmieć

Tłum. Anna Rupniewska

English