6 Weird But Cool Social Norms in Polish Culture

One of the great things about travelling is seeing how other people live. What they eat, what they do, how they work, how they play… and what their society has constructed as socially acceptable. (Lol?) For example, how in Canada/America people will greet someone with “How are you” and then the other person says “Good how about you” and then “Good”… but no one really cares. People have been socially conditioned that this is normal. So, in the honour of social psychology and the country of my origin, here are 6 Weird But Cool Social Norms in Polish Culture:

1) Kapchies

You know when you walk into a friend’s house, or any house for that matter, and take off your shoes? In Polish culture, you take your shoes off, and slip some slippies on right after that. You must. Otherwise you’ll catch a cold or die. Literally, every polish home has these slippers- they’re called “kapchies”.

2) The Non Physical Way of Sex Determination

Last names in Poland change based on your sex. For example, take the last name “Siszalski”. The “i” at the end signifies the person is a male. If the person was female, the name would be “Siszalska”. So by seeing how their last name is conjugated, you can tell their sex.

3) Dinz

Polish families have dinner, called “obiad” usually around 3 pm. Yes. DINNER. If you think about it, it makes sense. Why do people have a big meal of food around 7 pm, just to stay up for a few more hours then go to bed? I dunno. But the Polish get around it by not doing it. They be smart.

4) Writing that Doesn’t Lie

Polish is completely phonetic. It’s pretty cool. It’s like… no tricks or disguises in writing. For example, in English, there’s the word “tear”. 2 ways to sound it out- tear as in to tear off a piece of paper, or tear as in a tear rolled down your cheek. Without context, you’re not sure which way it’s supposed to be read. Or the ghost letters that spontaneously occur. Like the “l” in salmon. Why is that in there? Well, in Polish, there are no gimmicks. Each word is spelt exactly how it sounds, and there is forever only that one way to say it. So simple. So pure. So Polish.

5) Night Owls

Night owls rejoice. In Poland, clubs are open late. Really late. All night late. People are heading out to the clubs at times that folks in other countries are leaving the clubs. For example, when my cousin was visiting Canada, we would start getting ready around 8 pm and leave for the bars around 10-10:30 pm. Whereas in Poland, my cousin was saying they would nap to prepare for the night ahead around 8 pm. Then the drinking and pre-bar games would start around 10-10:30 pm. In my hometown, one of the best bars we go to closes at 1 am. At this point it’s time for some greasy grub and then we head home. My cousin was flabbergasted we were leaving a bar at 1 am. That’s when they head out the door for the night. In Poland, youngsters or oldsters often stay out until 5 or 6 am.

6) What Does the Fox Say?

And last but not least, is the awesome sounds animals make in Poland. Don’t get me wrong, yes, animals all around the world make similar sounds. But the people or cultures around them don’t always describe them the same way. For example, in English culture, dogs go “woof woof”, right? Well, in Polish:

Dogs go “how how”
Frogs go “radeh radeh”
Horses go “iihaha”
Mice go “pipipi”
Pigs go “hroom”
Fish go “blu blu”

And more, but no fox.

There you go. Now you can decide whether or not you’d be socially accepted in Poland, and now you can sleep at night.

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