Poland Culture 101 in Photos - Photo Gallery and Description of Poland Culture

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Flag of Poland

Poland's National Flag
Dave Logan © 2007

The national flag of Poland consists of a stripe of white on the top and a stripe of red on the bottom. These colors have been in use in the Polish flag for centuries. Before the 20th century, Poland's flag featured its coat of arms, a white eagle on a red background. Some Polish flags still use the coat of arms; it will be found in a red crest centered in the white stripe of the current national flag.

The colors of Poland's flag are often used to represent the country. You will see red and white used in cities' coat of arms (for example, Warsaw's coat of arms features a red shield on a white background). Souvenirs from Poland are also sometimes created in these colors.

Polish Flag Day was established in 2004 and is observed on May 2. Though Poland's flag may be more widely flown on this day, it can always be seen at important government buildings like the Presidential Palace in Warsaw.

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Poland Traditional Dress - Polish Folk Costume

Poland Traditional Costume
Denis Kotov © 2005

Traditional Polish folk costumes vary by region but are typically brightly colored and decorated with embroidery. Poland's folk costumes are sometimes still worn for special occasions, like weddings, or in the most rural parts of Poland by members of the older generations. Traditional dress in Poland varies by region. Headdresses range from hats to wreathes of flowers, fabric colors vary greatly, and aprons, vests, and ribbons are used depending upon the origin of the costume.

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Easter Eggs from Poland - Pisanki

Polish Pisanki
Katarzyna Grodzicka © 2006

Dyed and decorated Easter eggs are called pisanki in Poland. The tradition of egg decorating for Easter goes back centuries. Pisanki can vary by region, just as traditional Polish dress can, and designs and coloring techniques have been typically passed down from mother to daughter. Eggs were once a part of Polish pagan tradition and still symbolize spring, renewal, fertility, and eternity.

Easter in Poland is an important holiday marked with fairs, markets, special foods, and traditions. During this time, Polish Easter eggs can be purchased from fairs and markets.

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All Saint's Day Poland - Poland National Holiday - Day of the Dead

All Saint's Day Poland
Szymon Mazurek © 2006

On All Saint's Day (November 1), cemeteries in Poland are decorated with flowers and candles. The candles are specially made so that they can burn safely for a long period of time in order to guide spirits through the night. When darkness falls, hundreds of these candles can be seen glowing in Poland's cemeteries.

Recognition of this holiday is a part of the Roman Catholic tradition. Many Polish people consider their identity as Roman Catholics inseparable from their identity as Poles.

Learn about more about All Saints' and All Souls' Day in Poland and Poland's holidays.

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Polish Dumplings - Pierogi

Polish Pierogi
ShyMan © 2006

Pierogi are dumplings stuffed with just about anything you can think of - potatoes, meat, onions, cheese. They are traditionally accompanied by a dollop of sour cream. Restaurants that serve traditional Polish food will always have pierogi on their menus. For dessert, it's also possible to order sweet pierogi filled with berries or jam.

Learn more in the complete article Polish Traditional Foods.

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Mushroom Picking in Poland - A Poland Seasonal Tradition

Mushroom Picking Poland
Bob Drapella © 2006

Mushrooms are a popular feature of Poland national cuisine. Forget about the bland mushrooms you get at Western supermarkets - mushrooms that grow naturally in Poland are full of flavor. Polish people seek out their mushrooms in the forest; this is a tradition that usually involves the whole family.

The autumn mushroom season's harvests offer restaurant chefs the opportunity to include Polish mushroom delicacies on their menus. Be sure to sample dishes featuring mushrooms if you travel to Poland in the fall.

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Christmas in Poland - Poland Christmas Feast

Poland Christmas Dinner
Szymon Mazurek © 2006

As in other parts of Eastern Europe, Polish Christmas is celebrated with a family feast on Christmas Eve. The whole family sits down to dinner together in Poland. Traditionally, 12 symbolic dishes are served in honor of the 12 apostles. Christmas has historically been a time for fortune-telling and superstition. Now Polish families may observe these old beliefs for fun and to remember past Christmases. Read more about Poland Christmas Traditions.

Be sure to visit Poland's Christmas Markets if you travel to this country during the month of December to take part in traditional Polish Christmas festivities and to sample cold-weather treats. Historic centers light up with Christmas trees and decorations during this time of year, and Poland exudes the warmth of the holidays despite the cold weather.

View pictures of Christmas in Poland.

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Wooden Boxes From Poland - Poland Folk Art

Poland Traditional Box
Tomasz Domagala © 2007

Carved wooden boxes in traditional folk style are great souvenirs from Poland. Traditionally, these wooden crafts were made during the winter months when farming families had to keep themselves occupied until spring. Some artists earned prominence for their box-making and -decorating skills. The symbols carved on top of the wooden boxes were thought to bring prosperity or protection. Brides' dowry chests were also decorated with these symbols.

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Wooden Folk Carving from Poland - Wooden Toys from Poland

Wooden Toys from Poland
Michal Wawruszak © 2007

Folk carvings from Poland make great gifts. They often show the humorous side of Polish folk tradition and culture - and the character of the individual artists. Peasants figures and animals likenesses are carved by hand, painted, and then sold at souvenir shops and markets.

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Folk Music in Poland - Polish Traditional Music

Folk Music Poland
Izabela Habur © 2006

Interest in Poland's traditional folk music has seen revival in Poland and elsewhere. Poland now has traditional folk music festivals that feature authentic music from Poland's past. These festivals also incorporate dances and folk costume into their repertoire. Sometimes groups will compete against one another with various experts in traditional folk music, dance, and costume, presiding over the performances.

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Poland's World Heritage Sites

Wooden Church in Debno, Lesser Poland

Poland's World Heritage Sites represent culturally and historically significant locations in Poland. Poland's medieval towns, natural landscapes, religious sites, and more say a great deal about events, individuals, ideas, and ways of life that shaped Poland.

Read more about all of Poland's World Heritage Sites.

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