6 STRICTLY POLISH CELEBRATIONS!

As the month of Christmas festivities is just around the corner, we wanted to tell you a little bit about joyful celebrations,that only the Poles are familiar with!

1) Andrzejki – St Andrew’s Night – the night from November 29 to 30

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 Universal partying on the night of St Andrew’s Day has folk origin; on this day people (mainly children and teens) are making prophecy by pouring candle wax by key hole to water and guessing what the wax shape means. Andrzejki, or St. Andrew’s Day, is a traditional holiday and is an evening of superstition and fortune telling. On this night, young women can predict who they’ll meet and fall in love with!

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2) Mikołaj- St Nicholas Day – December 6

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 This has been always the date when children in Poland expected Santa Clause bringing gifts (unlike Americans – we believe that the one who brings Christmas gifts is an Angel!). The gifts are put under sleeping children’s pillows to be discovered by them in the morning of 6th December. It is believed that  Mikołaj only brings gifts for well-behaved children. The naughty ones get switches to remind them that they must do better next year! ( FYI – older generations of Poles always try to remind the kids that Mikołaj was in fact a bishop of Mira, born in privileged family, who decided to commit his life to helping the poor).

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3) Śmigus dyngus/Lany Poniedziałek – Wet Monday – the first Monday just after Easter

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Monday (just after Easter) is a holiday in Poland and is called in polish ” Lany Poniedziałek” or “Śmigus dyngus“.This is a wonderful day of fun, however some take too much advantage of it!

The ancient Polish tradition on Easter Monday is celebrated by everyone with enthusiasm by sprinkling each other with water. Especially kids have fun this day. Some people say that by being splashed with water on Easter Monday will bring you good luck throughout the year.

Beware though – you might end up being splashed with 9 (or more) buckets of water especially if you are dressed up and on your way to a fancy restaurant downtown ( as happened to me more than once…)!

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4) Konstytucja 3 Maja – Third May Constitution Day – May 3

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Even though May 3 is celebrated throughout Poland as the day that marks the signing of the Polish Constitution in 1791, this is not the exact day that Poland received their independence. The constitution of 1791 only lasted one short year prior to an invasion that divided Poland among Austria, Prussia, and Russia. Finally, in November of 1918, Poland received its independence. This day however, is still an important date that offers visitors a glimpse into the culture and pride of the Polish people with an array of Polish festivals and parades in the larger cities throughout Poland

 5) Wianki – Noc Świętojańska –  the night from June 23 to 24

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 A Midsummer’s Night Eve. Maidens construct wianki (intricate wreathes) decorated with herbs and flowers. At dusk they launch them, candle lit, into the river hoping the boy who finds her wianki will ask for her hand. Bonfires smoke the crop fields for good luck in growing and harvest. Boys show off jumping over the flames. Fertility rites abound and the barren fern blooms this night for only a moment. Summer solstice. If you happened to visit major Polish cities like Kraków or Warszawa, you will be lucky to see impressive firework displays and laser shows  as well as live concerts by the river banks!

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 6) Dzień Niepodległości – Independence Day – National Independence Day – November 11

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Poland signed its historic constitution in 1791 but its independence was to be short-lived as invading forces partitioned the country between Russia, Prussia and Austria the following year. It was not until 11 November 1918 that Poland was to regain its independence. To this day, 11 November is an important civic holiday that is recognized throughout the country and is marked with patriotic parades and festivities in many of the larger towns and cities.

Below a picture of Józef Klemens Piłsudski- a Polish statesman and the person most responsible for the creation of the Second Republic of Poland in 1918 – 123 years after it had been taken over by Russia, Austria and Prussia.

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Which Polish festival would you like to celebrate the most?!

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TOP 10 WINTER WONDERLANDS IN POLAND!

While most of us here in Shanghai just started bracing ( mainly mentally) for winter time, the home country of pierogi – Poland – is already the picture perfect land of frozen in most parts of the little kingdom. In this post check out the most stunning ,must – visit places in Poland for the next few months!

1.SZKLARSKA PORĘBA

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One of the most spectacular winter resorts in Poland. Since it is located at the bottom of Izerskie mountains, it is the only resort in the country that prides itself in Alpine microclimate. Neighboring Polana Jakuszycka is the most modern center for ski running in Poland.

2.BIESZCZADY

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Perfect destination  for experienced backpackers, who can rent snow – rackets or ski running equipment. Besides that you can embrace your winter on the horse-drawn carriages in the area. The snowboarders and skiers won’t be disappointed by the slopes either!

3.BESKIDY

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The place you want to visit is Beskid Śląski with the skiing ‘capital’ – Szczyrk. It’s the place where Poland borders with Czech and Slovakia. Cosy villages, skiing slopes – wonderful winter landscape.

4. KRYNICA ZDRÓJ

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Besides great quality skiing slopes , the longest sleigh track in Poland and sleigh rides, Krynica also offers a big variery of mineral water houses and old, wooden heritage buildings from 19th century scattered around.

5.SUWALSZCZYZNA

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The coldest spot in Poland, with temperatures around -25 Celcius degrees. You can even try ice-fishing here!

6.SZLAK ORLICH GNIAZD ( THE ROUTE OF EAGLES’ NESTS), PARK OJCOWSKI

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With the Hercules club and Pieskowa rock in the background, the trees covered with tiny frozen drops of fog look simply magical in winter. Peaceful place, prefect for winter meditation walk!

 7.MAZURY LAKESIDE

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In winter, vast surfaces of impressive Polish lakes turn into gigantic, sparkling ice rinks and and fans of yachting switch to …iceboats called ‘bojery’! Another unique activity that you can enjoy only here is the sleigh ride, where an airboat will replace the horse!

8. PUSZCZA BIAŁOWIESKA

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You could already read in on our blog in the summer    about Białowieski Park Narodowy (Check it here ).It hosts around 44 thousands of tourist per year! It is worth visiting in every season, especially that it is home to the biggest in the world herd of wild European bisons!

9. TATRY WYSOKIE ( HIGH TATRA MOUNTAINS)

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Tatry with Morskie Oko ( the Eye of the Sea) with  and Poland winter capital – Zakopane – are a must visit for everyone as they are the heart and soul of Polish winter

10. SEASIDE – FROZEN BALTIC SEA

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In winter the splashing waves of the Baltic sea turn into awe inspiring ice fence – a vie definitely worth seeing with your own eyes!

Let us know if you visit any of these places this winter and get back to us with your impressions!

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HOW DO POLISH PEOPLE STAY WARM IN WINTER?!

We all know it – the perfect fall weather is over and we are all bracing to face Shanghai’s wintertime. The brutal truth is – won’t be easy. However! There are quite a few ways to get yourself warm, other than just turning your heater or kongtiao  on to the maximum. You should know that where Joanna and I come from – that is little kingdom of Poland – winters can be mercilessly freezing, with temperatures dropping down to ‘nose biting’ – 20 Celcius degrees….Therefore – trust the Polish – we know how to embrace winter time! Here are top 3 Polish ways to stay warm!

1.  Rosół aka broth

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The King ( or Queen) of Polish soups and usually enjoyed on Sundays! We make it by boiling a variety of vegetables ( carrot, root of the parsley, celery, leek, onion and cabbage) with any meat or bones of your choice (my favorite is duck though!). We serve it with very thin pasta ( homemade is the best) and sprinkled with parsley for that extra vitamin boost. If you prepare it using bones, it will be even healthier for a few reasons!

#1 – supports immune system

#2 – contains healing compounds like collagen, glutamine, glycine and proline

#3 – the collagen in broth helps your gut lining and reduces intestinal inflammation

 2. Grzane piwo aka mulled beer

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Yes, you read it right. While mulled wine is popular worldwide, few nationalities know that beer can also be served hot! While it may sound like a paradox, since we all know the saying that beers tastes best when cold, but just try hot beer mixed with spices and honey and let us know what you think! Watch this short video to see how to make it! Thank me later!

3)     Herbatka z prądem /Goralska Herbatka aka  ‘Electric tea’ or ‘Tea with Electricity’/ ‘Mountain Tea’

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Another peculiar Polish way to deal with cold and gloomy fall and winter evenings. Simply prepare your favorite tea and add raspberry syrup and 50 ml ( a full shot) of the alcohol of your choice – preferably vodka or rum!

 

Well, obviously a plate of hot pierogi or a bowl of bigos ( Hunter’s Stew) combined with any of the above will be an ultimate winter set. Just saying!

 

Stay warm and happy this winter, Shanghailanders!

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