There are no weddings during the day Lent before Easter and during the Advent before Christmas. Those periods of year are believed to be the time dedicated for penance and preparation for the most important Christian holidays, so there is not space for public celebrations and dancing parties.
Interestingly enough, there are very few weddings in May as well. This is mostly due to superstition, as many people believe that persons who marry in May are not going to be happy and won't live together long. The wedding starts with the groom arriving to the house of the bride before they head to the church. His parents, godparents, closest family, and the best man accompany him. In the turmoil of last preparations, light snacks, for instance sandwiches, are served to the guests and sometimes a band cheers the crowd up with lively songs.
Once the couple is ready, both parents give their blessings the kneeling couple and they all are off to church. Obviously, everyone wants to shine on that day, so the young couple rents or borrows a nice ride from a rental agency or family members if they do not own one.
In some regions, decorated horse carriages are popular for such occasions. Depending on the families' budget and local traditions, the richly decorated parade to church can be quite a view especially if it involves regional costumes and horses adorned with white flowers and ribbons. In the church, the bride and the groom walk up the aisle together preceded by their groomsmen and bridesmaids.
The parents and other guests are usually already seated when the couple enters the church. Whether the ceremony takes place in church or at a local magistrate, there must be two witnesses of the marriage, who endorse the documents alongside of the bride and groom. During the religious ceremony, the traditional in the Western movies kiss basically does not exist.
Civil ceremonies are less solemn and usually only the bride and groom, and the witnesses are allowed in the room, so whether they kiss or not, very much remains their private venture. After the happy newlyweds exit the building, they are taken by storm with congratulations, best wishes, and flowers. Once every attending guest had kissed and hugged the couple, everyone is heading to the reception site, be it a restaurant, banquet hall, or one of the newlyweds house.
On the way to the destination, a very popular custom is preparing by the wedding participants, although not necessarily, passing "gates" for the couple. To pass such gates, in most cases barricades on the road by objects or people, the newlyweds have to give out some food and vodka. The wedding reception starts once the married couple arrives and is traditionally welcome by the entrance with bread and salt. Bread and salt are the symbols of future prosperity so that the couple never goes about hungry in their lives. The wedding party lasts as long as the guests want to stay, in most cases overnight.
Polish weddings are known for an unbelievable abundance of all kinds of foods and alcohol. In the past decades, Polish weddings were basically two-day feasts with dancing and games. Following this, refreshments were served and small gifts were exchanged. The day after the engagement, the couple visited the village priest and the marriage banns were put up in the church. The period of engagement usually lasted for three weeks. Even though nowadays such elaborate engagement rituals are becoming less common, the engagement is , still considered an important part of the entire wedding process.
Young maidens traditionally wore their hair in one braid symbolizing their youth and virginity. Then again it is also common for the bride-to-be and the groom-to-be to celebrate the last night of their being single with separate bachelor and bachelorette parties. During the bachelor party, the groom goes out and socializes with his guy friends at a bar where they have drinks, play pool or throw darts. During the bachelorette party, the bride either goes out with her girl friends or invites them to her house for a light meal and drinks.
The wedding The wedding ceremony starts with the blessing. Traditionally the mother of the bride gives the blessing before the bride and groom head to the church. A crucifix, a lighted candle, a bowl of holy water and a sprinkler or a leafy tree branch are used for this ritual. The bride and groom hold hands as they kneel in front of their parents. The mother of the bride sprinkles the bride and groom-to-be with Holy Water, whereupon they make the Sign of the Cross. She then gives them the crucifix to kiss. The father of the bride and the parents of the groom may also bless the couple separately.
After the round of blessings, the bride bids goodbye to her family members and the couple leave for the church. The church ceremony in Polish weddings usually follows Catholic rituals. The bride and groom may arrive together or separately at the Church. The first manifestation of Polish nationalism was during the Confederation of Bar in when there was an attempt to reform the political system. In the Constitution of 3 May , the burghers were enfranchised to expand the definition of the nation. Until , the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth had to integrate and unify a state made up of many ethnic and religious groups.
The term nation was used to refer only to the politically powerful multi-ethnic nobility. Since the nobles constituted some 8 to 12 percent of the population, this meant that the vast majority was excluded. In , the issue became how to leave multiethnic empires, on what basis to form and determine the boundaries of the reconstituted state, and how to govern it.
Because of repression and unsuccessful revolts, many Poles, in order to escape imprisonment or to obtain a university education, went abroad and were exposed to French and German ideas. Many adopted the position that a nation is like a kin group with common descent, language, and culture, and that it has a right by primordial occupancy to its native soil.
They adopted the ideology that ethnic groups have a right to an independent state, that a state's population should be composed of members of a single nation, and that a state should encompass all members of the ethnic group. The Nationalists, led by Roman Dmowski, conceived the nation as a distinct ethnic community which had an inalienable right to its ancestral territory. They saw the German empire as the principal enemy and were prepared to accept national autonomy under Russian suzerainty. Domestically they were strident, harsh, and intolerant, especially to other ethnic groups.
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The independence camp, led by Pilsudski, conceived the nation as a spiritual community united by culture and history. They were prepared to fight all who stood in the way of Polish independence. They saw Russia as the principal enemy and were prepared to cooperate with Austria and Germany. Domestically they were relatively mild and tolerant. Today the popular feeling is that a Pole is anyone who has Polish ancestry and exhibits Polish cultural traits, speaks Polish, and acts according to Polish norms. After , due to the Soviet and German genocides, changes in the country's boundaries, migration, and the expulsion of ethnic peoples by the Communist government of Poland, the country became an almost monoethnic society.
Current estimates of the combined non-Polish ethnic populations range between less than one million to more than two million, or between 2 and 5. Some fifteen ethnic groups are numerous enough to be recognized and to appear in statistics. The Germans, Belarussians, Ukrainians, Lithuanians, and Jews have states where members of their nationality are the majority and can be appealed to for political help. The Belarussians and Lithuanians are the indigenous people in Poland's northeast. Both groups have adjacent states where their ethnic group constitutes the majority.
Both groups have schools that teach in their respective languages. Because of a In the center of Krakow's main market square is the mid-sixteenth century Cloth Hall, built in the middle of the Renaissance. For the past one thousand years, Germans and Poles have at times fought wars and ruled one another. In , the Poles expelled five million Germans living in areas which were formerly part of Germany. The Germans remaining in Poland are the largest physical presence and most important political minority in the country.
For centuries, the Poles have ruled territories inhabited by the Ukrainians. In , as a way of crushing the Ukrainian resistance movement, the majority of the population was transferred from their homeland in southeastern Poland to scattered locations in the western territories taken over from Germany.
As a result, many Ukrainians assimilated into Polish society. The Roma came to Poland in the sixteenth century. They were one of the groups the Nazis attempted to exterminate. In , the Association of the Roma in Poland organized an observance of the Nazi actions at the Auschwitz concentration camp. A growing number of Roma have entered Poland since The earliest record of a Jew in Poland is in a letter written in C. The first ghetto in Poland was created in the fourteenth century when Jews from Spain and Western Europe immigrated and asked for a sector of the city where they could live according to their religion and laws.
Until the beginning of the seventeenth century, the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth was tolerant toward the Jews and even invited them to come and settle.
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The relationship deteriorated as the fortunes of the Commonwealth declined, and there was a massive immigration of Jews from Germany, and later, from Lithuania and Russia. Relations were exacerbated by the Russian czarist policy of discrimination against Jews and stirring up ethnic antagonisms.
The first organized anti-semitic pogrom was in The last one was on 4 July in Kielce when forty-two Jews were killed. Of the more than three million Jews in Poland in , ninety thousand were left by the end of the war. The government-sponsored anti-semitic campaign of — drove out most of those who remained. Prior to , the Communist government at times denied the very existence of national minorities in Poland.
When minorities were recognized, each acknowledged minority could be represented by only one organization and with one publication. As a result, between and , there were only six organizations. After , the right to free association resulted in the establishment of approximately two hundred ethnic organizations.
There is legislation establishing the right to study and be taught in one's native language. Likewise, minorities have the right to access mass media, including local public radio and television, and to use their native language in broadcasting. Since , minority parties are exempt from the requirement that political parties must get a specified percentage of votes to obtain membership in the Sejm. On the local level, minorities have the right to participate in self-government.
Little is known about how the laws and regulations are actually implemented. As of , there are a half million illegal aliens in Poland. Most of them came from eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union. The vast majority of the urban population lives in apartments and relies on mass transportation. The increasing ownership and use of private automobiles has produced associated traffic and parking problems. In most Polish cities, there are three types of areas or "cities.
The general appearance of this city was heavily influenced by what was in practice in the Soviet Union. The city has broad streets and large public spaces. Housing consists of four- or five-story apartment buildings. Typically, construction was shoddy. Apartments commonly consist of two or three rooms plus a kitchen and a bathroom.
All apartments have access to gas, electricity, and municipal water and most have central heating. There is minimal space for parking and children's play. The center of the city is devoted to government buildings, not to commercial outlets and the service sector. Places of employment, especially industry, are located some distance from dwellings. Architecturally, western European influences are noted. One difference from the "socialist city" is that the buildings represent a great variety of architectural characteristics. The interior space is much less standardized.
Much space is devoted to commercial activities and, in the older parts of the city, industrial plants abut residential areas. The "medieval city" was built during the feudal period. Building styles and town plans reflect practices and theories current in western Europe at that time. Most of the surviving structures are palaces or public buildings. Only a very few houses of merchants or people of modest means still exist. Polish cities suffered heavy damage during World War II.
Consequently, buildings and areas that appear ancient are often products of post-World War II construction. This was done by the Communist government to emphasize the nation's will to survive despite attempts to destroy it. Food in Daily Life. The mainstays of the Polish diet are meat, bread, and potatoes. For many Poles, dinner is not dinner without meat, primarily pork.
Bread is consumed and treated with reverence. In the past, if a piece of bread fell on the ground, it was picked up with reverence, kissed, and used to make the sign of a cross. Peasants trace a cross on the bottom of a loaf of bread with a knife before slicing it. Poles consume three-hundred pounds of potatoes per capita per year. Vegetables consumed are local cool weather crops such as beets, carrots, cabbage and legumes beans, peas, lentils. Another important source of nutrition is milk in various forms such as fresh or sour milk, sour cream, buttermilk, whey, cheese, and butter.
The Polish daily meal sequence is dependent upon the family and the season; however, typically it starts with a substantial breakfast eaten between five and eight A. Eggs, meat, bread, cheese, and cold cuts may be served. Between nine and eleven in the morning, people may have a second breakfast similar to an American bag lunch.
Dinner, the main meal of the day, is served between one and five in the afternoon and contributes 40 to 45 percent of the calories for the day. It consists of a large bowl of soup, a main course, and dessert. Salads, when served, are eaten with the main course. On Sundays, appetizers may start the meal. The last meal of the day is a light supper eaten between six and eight in the evening. It may be a repeat of the breakfast menu or include cold fresh water fish, aspic dishes, and cooked vegetable salads. Additionally, A wooden house in Czerwinsk.
Tea and coffee are served after meals. People differentiate between tea made from tea leaves and that made from herbs or fruits. In many dialects, the two types of teas have different names. Tea is consumed more frequently and coffee is viewed as slightly special. Vodka was first distilled in Poland in the sixteenth century and is consumed with food, commonly sausage, dill pickles, or herring, as a chaser. Food Customs at Ceremonial Occasions. Namedays and weddings center on individuals.
Because common first names are noted in published calendars along with holidays, people know when to acknowledge an individual's nameday. Such celebrations typically feature poultry, cakes, and other party foods. At weddings, the bride and groom are greeted with bread and salt the essentials of life upon their return from church. The Christmas season is the traditional time for baking cookies, honey-spice cakes, and cheese-dough apple cakes.
Among the oldest and most traditional Christmas treats are honey-rye wafers and poppy seed or nut crunch. Babka , a cake, is another traditional dish that must be taller than it is wide and it must be narrower at the top than at the bottom. The most solemn family gathering of the year is the Christmas Eve supper.
Family gather to share the oplatek , a thin white wafer sometimes called angel bread, followed by an odd number of meatless dishes. However, fish is permitted. Traditional dishes include noodles with poppy seeds and wheat pudding. At Easter the tradition is to consume food blessed on Holy Saturday. One standard item is hard-boiled eggs. Easter breakfast features fresh meat, game, and smoked meats. There is a tradition of roasted suckling pig with a red egg in its snout. During fall harvest festivals, the fruits of the fields are blessed, and cereals and bread made from freshly threshed wheat are eaten as well as placed on graves on All Saint's Day.
On Saint Martin's Day, the traditional food is a goose. Poland is changing from an economy where the state sector, dominated to one where the economy is controlled privately. In , 95 percent Produce and shoe merchants at a market in Plock. By , 67 percent of those employed were in the private sector, which was producing 63 percent of the GDP.
In , the private sector, generated about 70 percent of economic activity. In , 44 percent of those employed were in service occupations, 30 percent in industry and construction, and 26 percent in agriculture. The latter produces only 5 percent of the GDP. Polish farms are small, inefficient, lack capital, and have surplus labor. The main products are potatoes, fruits, vegetables, wheat, poultry, eggs, pork, beef, milk, and cheese. The average farm sells most of its products and buys about a fourth of the food consumed by the family.
Land Tenure and Property. While a few state farms remain, the vast majority of farm land is privately owned.
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City apartments are being privatized. Most of the industrial enterprises in the politically "sensitive sectors" such as coal, steel, telecommunications, aviation, and banks are still owned by the government. Poland produces agricultural products, minerals, coal, salt, sulfur, copper, manufactured, goods, glass, textiles, beverages, machinery, and ships. Between and , the government's centralized planning system mobilized resources but could not ensure their efficient use. It made huge strides in helping to develop heavy industry but neglected farming, consumer goods, and housing.
Their efforts also hurt the environment. After , there was a reduction of the state-owned sector balanced by the development of the private.
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Poland has privatized medium and small state-owned enterprises and passed a liberal law for the establishment of new companies. The major industries are machine building, iron and steel, coal mining, chemicals, shipbuilding, food processing, glass, beverages, and textiles. Since , the main effort has been to shift Poland's international trade from countries that were part of the Soviet Union and its erstwhile satellites to other countries, especially member states of the EU.
Its main exports are manufactured goods, chemicals, machinery and equipment, food, and live animals, and mineral fuels.
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Poland's main imports are manufactured goods, chemicals, machinery and equipment, mineral fuels, food, and live animals. In the cities, both men and women are employed outside the home. However, there is a male bias in employment. Proportionately, more women are unemployed than men. In rural areas, women participate fully in farm work, both in the fields and in the house. Additionally, women operate a large number of farms. Polish women perform "the second shift"; the phenomenon of simultaneously managing an external job and a household. Shopping, especially for groceries, and housework are considered women's jobs.
A man will do almost anything not to cook, wash dishes, or clean house. The strong and rigid social stratification that marked Poland prior to has all but disappeared. At the end of the war, the intelligentsia was greatly reduced in numbers. For forty-five years, the Communist government pursued policies intended to reduce social classes.
They fostered education and the economic and educational advancement of peasants and workers. With the government's success in creating industrial jobs, there has been a great movement of rural people to cities. Currently there are six strata or groupings: The workers and intelligentsia have increased both numerically and proportionately. The ruling class that held power during Communist rule is fighting to regain political power and maintain economic power.
The szlachta may still constitute some 10 to 15 percent of the population, but their significance has been practically eliminated. People starting businesses are just beginning to differentiate themselves. Symbols of Social Stratification. During Communist rule, the general population assumed many of the customs of the szlachta.
Thus, the common way of addressing someone is as pan male or pani female , terms that formerly were used among and toward members of the szlachta. For people who are above the peasant and worker classes, men kiss women's hands and follow current fashions in dress. Since social status does not necessarily correlate with high income, there is a discrepancy between status and consumption. The educated and the szlachta stress politeness and social graces to differentiate themselves from the uneducated and the newly rich. The highest law is the Constitution of 16 October The Polish government is divided into three branches: The executive branch includes a president, a prime minister, two deputy prime ministers, and a cabinet or council of ministers.
The president, who is the chief of state, is elected by a popular vote for a five-year term. The prime minister and the deputy prime ministers are appointed by the president and confirmed by the Sejm. The prime minister nominates and the president appoints the members of the council of ministers who are then approved by the Sejm. The legislative branch consists of two houses: Four seats are constitutionally reserved for ethnic German parties. Leadership and Political Officials. There are a great many political parties. Most of them are still in the process of being formed, developing ideologies, and establishing a solid basis among the voters.
Ideologically some are successor parties of the Communist party and others are post-Solidarity parties. In addition, there are a great many minor parties; some have an ideological basis and some reflect the ambitions of a popular individual. Social Problems and Control. The Polish legal system is a combination of the continental system of law Napoleonic Code and holdovers from Communist legal theory.
Under the continental civil law, interpretation of the law by judges is not a major factor and the rule of precedent is not an important element. Since , the Polish legal system has undergone significant transformation as part of a larger democratization process. There is some judicial review of legislative acts and court decisions can be appealed to the European Court of Justice in Strasbourg, France.
Poland has a commercial code that Polish farms tend to be small and inefficient; they produce only 5 percent of the nation's gross domestic product. A still controversial issue is the treatment of former Communist government officials, especially the members the secret police. Debate centers around barring them from holding public office or positions of trust and whether Communist government officials who committed crimes should be held accountable now.
An issue gaining in importance is the treatment of people with different sexual orientation. The legal system, the society, and especially the Catholic Church are intolerant toward them. Yet there is a world-wide trend to legitimize these types of minorities and incorporate them into society with full civil and legal rights. It has an army, a navy, and an air defense force. In , Poland spent 2. At the end of the twentieth century Poland had no serious military threats or international disputes.
The government's social welfare system is insufficiently funded and needs a comprehensive overhaul to adjust to changing political and economic conditions. Nongovernmental organizations NGOs are involved in aiding children, family and general social welfare. They have about two million members. By , about twenty-six thousand NGOs were operating. NGOs may register as either associations or foundations.
Both types of organizations may provide services. There is a NGO support industry.
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In general, NGOs try to satisfy local needs. More than 90 percent of Poland's NGOs are active in education including social as well as general education ; social welfare; and family, children and young people. Most of their funding comes from donations by corporations and individuals, the central government, international NGOs, and their own business activities. Division of Labor by Gender. Traditionally, the woman's place was in the home, and her rule in household matters was absolute. By , women were According to a study, women employed outside the home averaged 6.
The socialist government offered women opportunities for higher education and employment. In , for every males who completed higher education there were 89 women. On average, women and men have accumulated the same However, women's earnings are lower. Between and , women earned only 66 to 67 percent of men's wages. This was due in part to women choosing careers in badly paid sectors of the economy. Seventy percent of the women worked in health, social security, finance, education, and retail sales, but only 15 percent of graduates in technical subjects were women.
Even in the better paid sectors of the economy, women were primarily in administration or worked as semiskilled workers. Women operate a significant percentage of farms; in they operated 20 percent of farms. Almost 70 percent of female farmers were single and more than 40 percent were age 60 or older. Usually the children have moved away and the husband has died or is unable to farm.
The reorientation of Poland's economy from a socialist command model to a capitalistic market driven one has had a disproportionate impact on women.