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Polish manners

From the ancient custom of greeting visitors with bread and salt, Poland’s system of social graces has developed into one that is unmatched in the world, and will often put a smile on your face. You can expect to be spoilt - every Pole wants to be the host with the most, no money and effort spared.

When in Poland, be prepared for your words to be sometimes misinterpreted, but do not worry about communication. You will find it very easy to engage in a friendly conversation, even regardless of the other speaker’s linguistic competence.

You wil be overwhelmed by the exceptional hospitality offered by the Polish people and the good-hearted everyday social rituals you will experience.

When visiting a traditional Polish home, be prepared to be confronted with situations described described below:

  • Even on the first visit do not be surprised to be offered by your host a pair of slippers for your comfort.
  • 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 soup with noodles, pork cutlet with cabbage and potatoes, topped with a cheesecake and washed with a bottle of home distilled flavoured liquor.
  • If you abstain from alcohol, you will find that in Poland it is sometimes not enough just to say “no, thanks”, as your host may assume his traditional Polish hospitality is being put to test.
  • 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.
  • It is considered exceptionally courteous to kiss a woman’s hand as a way of greeting. This practice is particularly popular among the older generation.
  • While dining in a restaurant, you will be expected to leave a tip. Tipping is similar to the rest of Europe, i.e. at least 10% of the value of the bill.

There are, of course, many more specifically Polish customs. It is also worth knowing that the Poles are a particularly friendly and supportive people, who cultivate a sense of duty towards each other and their families and friends.

Since 95% of the population are Roman Catholics, all major church holidays are strictly observed, particularly Christmas and Easter. On such occasion, Polish families come together to enjoy good food and drink.