Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The Friendly American Adapts to Polska

Today I feature a guest post by:  Sheila Callahan at Help! I'm Blogging.  Sheila is a self described "Jersey Girl" currently based in Warsaw, Poland.  I will have a guest post on Sheila's blog today, also.
For today’s guest post I've been struggling to put together some witty and interesting facts about my life in Poland, but unfortunately I keep running into a brick wall. So I'll quit trying to be fascinating and just tell you a few things I've noticed about Polish superstitions and customs.
Back in America, I never thought twice about embracing someone while standing on the threshold of the house. When guests came and went, we always greeted people and said goodbyes at the doorway. Not done in Poland. Embracing anyone over the threshold is considered bad luck.
In Poland it's also bad luck to buy an even number of flowers for a bouquet, unless it's for a funeral.
As far as everyday customs, what I’ve noticed here is that Poles do not wave hello or goodbye like we Americans do. People tend to bow slightly when greeting friends. Oh, and if you're on the street, you do not smile and say hello to strangers, like you would often do in America.
This last reality has taken a lot of getting used to. I grew up saying hello to people, even those I didn't know, when I passed someone walking in my neighborhood, for example.
Here, it's simply not done. On the rare times that I forget myself and smile at someone or say hello to an elderly person, they just look at me and appear puzzled.

Have you encountered customs that took you completely by surprise?


  1. I love this glimpse into the Polish culture! I wonder what the history behind odd numbers of flowers being lucky is. I remember when I lived in Peru it was odd to kiss people on the cheek when saying hello; that really took me out of my comfort zone at first.

  2. IN Bermuda, you can insult someone, especially a slightly older generation, if you pass them on the street and do NOT say "good morning" or "good afternoon." And if you just start talking to the cashier, launching into a question for example, the cashier might level a laser-like stare at you and just say, "GOOD MORNING." And pause, ignoring any question and waiting, pointedly, for you to say good morning back.


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