Updated 4 weeks ago

Wondering what life is all about in Poland? Here is an overview of the Polish culture, traditions, cuisine, pastimes, etc.

When moving to a foreign country, discovering the local lifestyle will be one of your first steps towards adaptation. So if you are moving to Poland, you will probably start by enquiring on its population, on their way of living and on the Pole society at large. Regardless of the country where you come from, you shall not have much trouble in getting used to your new environment thanks to the local ambiance and its inhabitants' hospitality and friendliness, along with culture and traditions, an unparallelled cuisine, and more.

Traditions

Pole traditions mainly revolve around hospitality and the local cuisine, especially when it comes to foreigners. Despite language barriers, the Poles are very friendly and hospitable people who will not hesitate to engage in a conversation.

A lot of traditions that are popular in Poland are also shared with other European countries — especially when it comes to Catholic holidays like Christmas and Easter. With that, there are some purely local holidays like Independence Day, Andrzejki (St. Andrew’s Day), and others.

Culture

As mentioned earlier in this Guide, Poland has a great cultural and historical heritage which is highly valued by its population. Several famous artists, such as Chopin, who was a pianist and composer at the Warsaw Conservatory, Franciszek Starowieyski and Andrzej Tomaszewski, have greatly honoured the country in the past. Their masterpieces, which are exhibited in national museums, attract a large number of tourists. The country hosts numerous cultural events and festivals and there are plenty of cultural sights to explore both in Poland’s major cities as well as smaller towns.

Festivals and beliefs

There are several international festivals that regularly take place in the country like Woodstock Festival (music, takes place in Kostrzyn), Zakopane Highland Folklore Festival (music and culture, takes place in Zakopane), Warsaw International Film Festival (cinema, takes place in Warsaw), and many others.

Most of the of the public holidays observed in the country are linked to religious festivals such as Christmas, Assumption, All Saints Day, etc. Note that most of the Pole population (95%) is of Christian faith. Therefore, Christmas and Easter are celebrated over two to three days.

Music

Polish musical tradition is very rich dating back to medieval and renaissance music and has Slavic and Christian origins. Polish folk music is still very popular in the countryside and there are a number of folk musical festivals regularly taking place across the country. Folk music is very diversified and varies from one region to another and every rhythm is accompanied by its own dance style.

As for contemporary music, local artists are rather influenced by Western and international musicians. In fact, the country regularly hosts many pop, jazz, Pole rock, and hip hop music festivals.

Cuisine

Polish cuisine is diverse and interesting to explore, having been heavily influenced by the country’s neighbours like Germany, Ukraine, the Czech Republic, and others.

The bigos, which is similar to sauerkraut, is one of the most popular traditional dishes. Soups are quite popular as well, namely the spicy zurek, the red barszc, and the chlodnik, perfect for cooling down on a hot day. The traditional dessert section is also varied with sernik (a pastry made with cottage cheese), thin pancakes, and makowiec (a poppy seed roll) being some of the local favourites. Your meal in a Polish home will also typically be accompanied by some sort of an alcoholic beverage like beer, wine or vodka.

In general, Polish dishes are meat or fish-based, and, therefore, hearty and filling. If you are looking for vegetarian or vegan options, you may try some of the staples like pierogi (which come with vegetable fillings), veggie golabki (cabbage rolls), etc.

While the local cuisine offers a great number of options, you will find lots of international food chains and foreign restaurants in big cities.

 Useful links:

Polska – Poland Official Travel Website – Lifestyle
Polska – Poland Official Travel Website – Events

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