5 rules for Polish etiquette
So Poland is a country that is becoming more and more popular to visit but what should you be careful of in terms of your manners while on a trip there?
1. When visiting a Polish home it is typical to bring a small gift such as flowers, chocolates, sweets or wine for the hostess. That’s standard in other countries but it’s important to remember that other gift giving occasions are birthdays, name days (the birth date of the saint they are named after) and Christmas. When giving flowers it is important to not give yellow chrysanthemums. These are flowers only used for funerals!
2. During dinner Poles usually drink alcoholic drinks but if you want to abstain from alcohol, be prepared to keep on saying no. Toasts are always made with hard liquor such as vodka, and the host should always be the one to make the first toast. If you are invited for dinner, better go on an empty stomach because otherwise you will find it difficult to feast on a generous helping of soups, like zurek, Bigos (hunter’s stew), Polish national dish with various cuts of meat and sausages, cabbage, sauerkraut, often whole or puréed tomatoes, honey and mushrooms topped with a cheesecake and washed with a bottle of home distilled flavoured liquor.
3. To address Poles properly you need to use “Pan” for men and “Pani” for women together with their surname. It is not customary to call people by their first name until they are good friends. Greeting can be done by shaking everyone’s hand individually while looking at their face and smiling.
4. If you travel on public transport, be prepared for a display of old fashioned courtesy: young people give up their places to the elderly, while gentlemen make way for ladies. Although less common now, even a kiss on the hand of a lady as a way of greeting is a Polish custom.
5. Since 95% of the population are Roman Catholics, all major church holidays are strictly observed, particularly Christmas and Easter.
If you’ve been to Poland or plan to visit Poland then let me know about your experiences in the comments section below.