7+ Things Poland is Famous For (Or Would Like To Be?)

09.10.2018

Every country has to deal with national stereotypes, and Poland is no exception.

Despite the many years that have passed from the fall of the communist regime and Poland’s entry in the European Union, many nations around the world still consider the country a reclusive Eastern European corner where people eat pierogi, fight the Soviet state, and go to church every Sunday. And this is not Poland would like to be famous for.

While some of these stereotypical ideas about Poland still hold true (pierogi are just as delicious as ever), many things have changed and Poles would like others to acknowledge them.


So what is Poland famous for?

Changing a country’s reputation takes a lot of time and effort:

We’re talking years of promoting all things Polish.

As the image of Poland slowly changes, we get to appreciate the discrepancies between what the Polish wish their country was known for and what are the actual common associations that other nations have when they hear about Poland.

Here are the things that the Polish would like to be famous for and what they’re actually famous for.


What are Polish people known for?

  • Hospitability

Once you enter a Polish home, expect to be treated like a member of the royalty.  We have a popular saying here, which rougly translates to having a guest in the house is like having a God in the house.

You will surely be well fed and taken care of with devotion and respect!

  • Beautiful girls

While wandering around the streets of Poland, you will surely notice that there is no shortage of truly gorgeous women.

The unique Slavic beauty combined with warm, charming personalities make Polish women the ultimate dreamgirls for many men from all around the world.

  • Complaining

If you ask a Pole how is he doing, the response will be… honest. You won’t hear the polite fine! no matter the circumstances. If he is having a great day then sure, he will let you know, but otherwise – be prepared to hear him out when he talks about bad weather, horrible traffic, annoying politicians, unsatisfying job.

We like to believe that it’s not that we like to complain – we just like to tell you how it is!


Delicious food

 

poland_famous_dinner

 

It’s hard to compete with other European nations like Italy or France for the title of the best cuisine on the continent. But most of the time, the Polish are convinced that pierogi are just as delicious as tortellini, and deserve to be appreciated by foodies.

Unfortunately, when asked about the Polish cuisine, most people are likely to recall pierogi, potatoes, or sauerkraut. Not a very attractive set, is it?

But there’s so much more to Polish cuisine than this. In fact, regional delicacies often remain hidden from sight.

poland_famous_food

Even though Poles like their local cuisine, Polish dishes take hours to prepare and only the most patriotic Poles out there show the determination required to organize a real Polish dinner for their friends.

And that’s why Poland remains known as the country of pierogi and potatoes.

And nobody even appreciates the creativity that goes behind creating the myriad potato dishes Poland is famous for! Whether they’re baked and topped with a creamy mushroom sauce, or made into side dishes like kopytka, pyzy, and countless other dumplings, potatoes are just the best – and that’s what every Pole knows deep in their heart.


Different drinking culture

poland_famous_alcohol

If you meet a Pole abroad and ask them how much vodka they’ve had the last weekend, they will probably try to convince you that the drinking culture has changed in their country and looks nothing like during the Soviet times.

They’ll try to convince you that the Polish now prefer to have a pint of hipster artisan beer or a glass of expensive French wine.

But don’t be fooled.

Poles might not start their day with a shot of vodka for breakfast, but when it comes to drinking, they still pick vodka over other kinds of alcoholic beverages. And no wonder – Polish vodka is very good and very cheap.

Now...

poland_famous_beer

Poles might claim that they drink only when the occasion calls for it. But any occasion is a good occasion for a drink in Poland.

The Polish don’t want to be famous for their drinking habits, but they actually are. And once you get into their inner circle, you’ll see that their fame is well-deserved. Keeping up with the Polish when they party is challenging, especially since Poles like to brag about how much alcohol they can hold and how little it affects them.

If you want to make some real friends in Poland, you simply need to go out drinking together. That’s how Poles get to really know each other – your best friends are usually the people who have seen you wasted.


Poland = a modern democracy

Poles would like to be known as a progressive nation that managed to come out of the 2008 economic crisis relatively unscathed and can now be proud of its steady economic growth.

Moreover, the Polish want others to know that their communist past is behind them and today Poland stands strong as a modern democratic country.

poland_famous_huta

Unfortunately, many people believe that Poland still somehow remains under the Russian influence and the remnants of the communist regime are very much present in the Polish culture.

There’s no denying that the communist architecture style dominates over many Polish cityscapes, but just in case you missed out on that moment – it’s been more than 25 years since Poland became an independent democratic country.

Many Poles suffered the consequences of the Soviet rule and remember the communist regime very well, but if you ask anyone in their early 30s and younger, you’ll only get blank stares.

This generation grew up surrounded by Western influences that exploded in the country during the 1990s and has no memories at all of communist Poland. To young Poles, PRL times feel like ancient history.


Amazing football team

poland_famous_football

Poles simply love football. They’re easily the most passionate football enthusiasts out there. And they really, really want you to know that Poland has an amazing football team that just somehow never got around to winning a championship.

Well, that one is quite obvious...

While Polish players provide their talents to many different teams all over over the world, the Polish national football team hasn’t realized that common dream many Poles share yet.

Instead of being known for a great team of football players, the Polish have to accept the fact that their country will never be famous for figures like Robert Lewandowski, but always associated with Lech Walesa (the founder of the Solidarity movement that contributed to the fall of the Iron Curtain) and Pope John Paul II.

The association is so widespread that it sometimes makes most Poles cringe with irritation. Sure, both these figures played an important role in local and global history, but to have their names shouted at you every time you mention that you come from Poland gets old after a while.

Poland was invaded and fought for freedom 43 times from 1600 till 1945, but the Polish don’t want to be constantly reminded of their tragic history. Instead, they want to look toward the future and have their country associated with someone modern and exciting.

Famous Polish football players

We have already mentioned Robert Lewandowski, who is currently the brightest star of Polish football, but there are (and were) more incredibly talented footbalers in our country.

Remember Zbigniew Boniek? He is currently the president of Polish Football Association, but in his years as an active player he was scoring goals for (amongst others) the giants such as Juventus and Roma.

Kazimierz Deyna was one of the absolute best in his generation. The incredibly talented attacking midfielder died tragically in 1989 at just 41, having managed to build a very impressive career before that.

Today we have Kuba BłaszczykowskiGrzegorz KrychowiakŁukasz PiszczekWojciech Szczęsny and many other gifted and accomplished footballers who are making it big in the best clubs all around the globe. And we keep our fingers crossed for their success – as we already mentioned, Poles take their football very seriously!

Quality music

poland_famous_music

The Polish share one dream. They just want others to finally realize that Frederic Chopin was Polish. That’s right, Polish. Not French.

Even if he spent a lot of time in France, Chopin was a Pole. He was born and grew up in Poland, and left the country only because of the tumultuous political situation and the uprising that shook the partitioned territory of Poland in 1830.

Many Poles would like to be associated with the sophisticated piano nocturnes of Chopin, but the reality is quite different.

What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you hear someone mention ‘Polish music’?

poland_famous_disco

9 times out of 10, you’ll think about disco polo. Disco polo stars attract huge crowds both in Poland and abroad, especially in places where you find large gatherings of Polish expatriates. Even if they secretly like it, most Poles don’t want other nations to instantly associate them with this less-than-sophisticated type of music.

That’s what other nations consider as Polish music and there’s no way Chopin could beat that.


Famous Polish artists

No matter what kind of music you fancy, there is probably an incredibly gifted Polish musician known to the fans of the genre: legendary Artur Rubinstein, contemporary jazz pianist Leszek MożdżerCzesław Niemen and Marek Grechuta who were stars of the Polish popular music just a few decades ago, Adam Darski – frontman of popular death metal group Behemoth, extraordinary composer Jan A.P. Kaczmarek or popular singer Edyta Górniak – they are just a small representation of an amazing crowd of Polish musicians that we can be proud of. And we are!

Famous Polish songs

If you want to get familiar with our culture a bit better and impress a local with your knowledge of popular Polish music, here are some songs that are classics – timeless hits that absolutely everyone knows.


Famous Polish artists

We’ve touched on musicians, but what about other talented artists? Here you can brush up your knowledge about well-known Poles from other fields of art.

Famous Polish film directors

The landscape of Polish cinematography would look drastically different if not for these remarkable individuals. Famous all around the world, award-winning Polish directors who have taken our films next level are (among others, of course):

  • Andrzej Wajda
  • Roman Polański
  • Krzysztof Kieślowski
  • Agnieszka Holland
  • Krzysztof Zanussi

Famous Polish actors

What would a film be without it’s stars? Here, once again, the Polish have an array of legendary artists who proved the amazingly high level of their skills time and time again. Some of the most respected names include Janusz GajosAndrzej Seweryn and Daniel Olbrychski.

It is also important to acknowledge that nowadays a new wave of talents is making their way to the top. Amongst the ones who are mentioned as possible future legends are Dawid OgrodnikJakub Gierszał and Tomasz Schuchardt. Look out for these names, they will make it big!

Famous Polish poets

The written word is not dead! Our language – as difficult as it is – has proven to be a great tool to create true masterpieces. The most popular Polish poets are Czesław MiłoszWisława Szymborska (both awarded Nobel prizes) and Julian Tuwim.

Oh, and let’s not forget the classics, of course – Adam Mickiewicz and Juliusz Słowacki, whose romantic literary works are known to every single Pole!


Cosmopolitanism

poland_famous_views

The Polish will tell you that you may expect people to speak English if you travel to Poland.

It’s common to learn one or two foreign languages in Polish schools, and when you consider that 90% of the Polish population completed at least secondary education, it makes sense that communicative English is commonplace.

But travel to the Polish countryside and you’ll find out that one might get along better with some Russian instead. And don’t forget about a shot of vodka to accompany your conversation!


Are the Polish frustrated with Poland’s image?

Many of them would definitely like to change a lot in Poland’s reputation.

The Polish don’t want their country to be known as a place where people still suffer in the throes of tragic history, eat kotlet schabowy every weekend at their grandma’s, and politely head over to their local church each Sunday. And keep the picture of Pope John Paul II on their bedside table.

Needless to say, it will take several more generations of Poles to convince other nations that there’s more to Poland than pierogi and uprisings.

 

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