The BEST Guide to POLAND
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POLAND: EASTERN or CENTRAL European country?


Wulkan - | 2,977    
5 Nov 2015  #991

East - I just don't get it why this word makes you angry

It doesn't

don't understand the fuss

so why the big fuss????

There is no fuss, we just have a cultural debate whether Poland is in Eastern or Central Europe, it's you who is overreacting and repeating the "fuss"

What is wrong about that????? Nothing so what's the big deal????????

more overreacting....

Any former state from the Eastern Bloc as it was known, any former Iron Curtain territory is perceived, like it or not as Eastern Europe. I've mentioned this before to Wulkan but he simply cannot deal with it.

You must be seeing things my friend, I know some people perceive it that way and some don't, how hard is it to understand?

As I said, Central Europe was (and is) Germany, Austria, Hungary and the Czech Republic.

That's interesting definition you got there :-) Care to gives us some source? Actually give me just one source that defines Eastern Europe with Poland but without Czech Republic and I'll pay you £10


InPolska 12 | 2,034    
5 Nov 2015  #992

@Wulkan: yes, you do a personal matter out of it although you cannot change it. Poland, except for urban well off and educated classes is culturally (including food, but not only) closer to Eastern Europe and as we travel eastwards in Poland, we almost feel like in Ukraine and Russia.... Most Poles also physically look more Eastern Europeans. As to the Czech Republic, even in the provinces, it is more "westernized" (also no importance of religion, like in Western countries) than Poland is.

Being culturally linked to far Eastern Europe is no shame, or is it for you?
Wulkan - | 2,977    
5 Nov 2015  #993

yes, you do a personal matter out of it

I don't.

Most Poles also physically look more Eastern Europeans.

That's a good one, explain please.

As to the Czech Republic, even in the provinces, it is more "westernized"

That's a good one too, more details please.

Being culturally linked to far Eastern Europe is no shame

It's not, I just disagree with it. Or it depends what far Eastern Europe means to you.

Poland, except for urban well off and educated classes is culturally (including food, but not only) closer to Eastern Europe

So you say that Eastern European person can't be urban and educated?
Atch 8 | 1,352    
5 Nov 2015  #994

Good morning Wulkan. I'm always up early being married to a Pole! He's gone to work now and I'm happily munching my cornflakes. I would agree that if you classify Czech Republic as Central Europe, then why not Poland, even though a large part of it is located further east than its neighbour. However there's no doubt that Poland is perceived/defined by many as Eastern Europe. Now here we go with sources: Bear in mind that geographical definitions are one thing and popular perception is another. But here are some samples, quotes in bold, not to be rude or shouty, just to highlight them for quick reference:

http://goeasteurope.about.com/od/easterneuropedestinations/ss/Countries-Of-Eastern-Europe.htm . From a travel site, quote: it's important to note that the countries broadly classified as being a part of Eastern Europe have one thing in common: they were all behind the Iron Curtain before its fall, and this political boundary of the last century helps us define a region whose development, especially until the 1990s, has been very different from that of Western Europe.

United Nations Statistics Division http://unstats.un.org/unsd/pocketbook/PDF/Poland.pdf Quote: Region:Eastern Europe

The EU classifies Poland as both Eastern and Central Europe for different purposes. For example it defines the language as belonging to Eastern Europe which in my opinion is a fair definition. It's clearly a Slavic language. For God's sake my husband can understand Russian! He doesn't speak it now Wulkan but he always seems to know what they're talking about.

Obviously Poland is located more or less in the centre of Europe and its culture reflects this. Polish culture is a mix of east and west and to be honest I see a lot of similarities with Germany (another red rag to a bull I suppose!), but there's no getting away from the fact that being a former communist country places it firmly in the Eastern Bloc in the minds of many. This is a period of transition. Poland is quite unique because as I say it has both western and eastern influences in its culture and it will probably always be a contentious issue but as time goes by and the image of the old Iron Curtain thing recedes, people will simply see Poland as plain old European with no east or west tagged on to it.
InPolska 12 | 2,034    
5 Nov 2015  #995

@Wulkan; I have no time to feed your insecurity. Do use Google and consult a lot of sources
Atch 8 | 1,352    
5 Nov 2015  #996

Most Poles also physically look more Eastern Europeans.

Some do, they have those broad faces with high cheekbones and the deep set eyes but lots of them don't look like that at all.

Czech Republic, even in the provinces, it is more "westernized" (

That's a good one too, more details please.

I think she means because it was part of the Austro-Hungarian empire and absorbed a lot of German influences. I had a friend at school whose grandparents were ostensibly Czech but they were pure Austrian in all respects, right down to the Sachertorte!
InPolska 12 | 2,034    
5 Nov 2015  #997

Before I go, just one among thousands of examples: what about all the old women outside main cities wearing colorful headscarves? I have never seen any old western woman covering their head ;) (even when I was a child, a very long time ago...)

As we go eastwards in Poland, we see more and more similiaries with countries like Ukraine and Russia but why being ashamed???? ;)
Atch 8 | 1,352    
5 Nov 2015  #998

I have never seen any old western woman covering their head

They certainly did in Ireland and you can't get any further west than that! It evolved from the shawl that was worn round the head. You're starting to do your 'I am so vereee French and superieur' thing. Remember ma petite, the other children don't like that.......
OE223678    
5 Nov 2015  #999

Last post before leaving (;)). What about older women's ...... underwear? What about the way people dress in Polska B? What about the heavy make up worn by most made up Polish women? What about the food? Eating so much grain of all sorts (I need google translator to find out names in French) is from the East. Poland has become a bit westernized post 1989, especially among the rich and educated urban classes but in Polska B, not difficult to see that life, culture, mentality are closer to Eastern Europe.

That's the way it is and period.
Atch 8 | 1,352    
5 Nov 2015  #1,000

When I first saw the bit about older womens' underwear I thought 'Oh God, some weirdo' but no, it was just yourself under a guest name, what a relief! I' m interested InPolska, have you spent much time in countries further east?
90453678    
5 Nov 2015  #1,001

Why are some of you ... paranoid????? Is it a shame to be "Eastern"???? Since Poles are slavs and speak Slavic language, it's obvious ;) that they are culturally more "slavic" than anything else and since Slavs are from and in the Eastern part of Europe. Even in Warsaw, before Poland entered EU, it could be seen with bare eyes.

I know quite a few Russians and Ukrainians in Warsaw, from all walks of life and they all say that a lot of things and ways are similar in their home countries. I have for instance a (Polish) client, married to a Russian woman, back to Poland in 2014 after several years in Moscow and he says that work organization in Polish (= not from West) companies is very similar to what is in Russia. Also, what about the Polish way of working 8 hours with no break, with workers eating some bread and sausage and drinking tea while at their desk? It is not a Western way ;).

I would say that the non acceptance of whoever is "different" by most Poles is also something rather Eastern since in the West, people who are "different" are better accepted.

@Atch: I'm talking about 2015 not about the 19th or early 20th century. Sorry but in Western Europe, we don't see older women not cutting their hair and hiding it 24/24 7/7 under scarves! When I was a kid (long time ago ;)), older (and often even younger) women wore scarves over their head when going to church or to cemetary but NEVER on a normal basis. The way old Polish women wear scarves is Eastern.

PS: I don't understand why some Poles seem ashamed of their home culture? ;);)
InPolska 12 | 2,034    
5 Nov 2015  #1,002

@Atch: to answer you "no", but I know people from such countries and also as at home we've had a lot of Russians (since 1917) and besides since not anti-Russian, we mean to be informed from the horse's mouth ;).

Sorry, but whenever I go to Polska B, I can tell that it is not the "West". We can also see some of those old women in Warsaw, selling garlic for instance on the street or just visiting their kids in Warsaw. Everytime, I do, I'm sorry but I stare at them because for me it's "exotic" to me. The kind of underwear they wear is called 'pantalone" (French "pantalon" = pants/trousers) in Russian (a lot of French words because of Napoléon). Same goes for priests and nuns, to me also quite exotic. For some 40 or more years, in France, priests wear suits, they only have a narrow white removable collar and nuns are in plain clothes (of course rather ... conservative ;)) and when they cover their heads, it's very discrete.... Yes, cultural differences can be very huge between countries but it does NOT mean that Y is right and X is wrong. We do things different ways and that's all. It beats me when I read/hear about Poles being ashamed of their culture. Why being ashamed?????
OP Polson 6 | 1,800    
5 Nov 2015  #1,003

InPolska, Poland has been in the middle of both the Eastern and the Western 'worlds' for centuries, and has been influenced by both.
Some Poles may be kind of 'ashamed' of being called Eastern Europeans, for the pejorative connotation the term may carry. But lots of Poles don't really feel ashamed, they just feel it's not really accurate. They know they're a sort of mix of these different cultures. They cannot consider themselves Eastern (only). Also, Eastern implies orthodox. Poles are catholic. That's a huge difference, culturally speaking.
InPolska 12 | 2,034    
5 Nov 2015  #1,004

@Polson: yes but nevertheless the Slavic (= Eastern) influences are much bigger (culture (another example I've just found: painting eggs), food and overall mentality).

I don't understand that Poles have a problem with that.

PS: for me "Eastern Europe" is NOT pejorative.
Atch 8 | 1,352    
5 Nov 2015  #1,005

I'm talking about 2015 not about the 19th or early 20th century

Ok, fair enough but in Ireland during the 1970s and 1980s older women born in rural areas still wore the headscarf when they were working outdoors. My grandmother was one of them. She grew up on a farm and even though she had lived in the city since she was about twenty, and was a very well dressed lady who always wore a hat and gloves when she went out shopping or visiting, she donned a headscarf and boots when working in the garden and her dresses were always long. If you saw a pic of her in that garb she could easily pass for an Eastern European 'peasant'. So thirty or forty years ago, it was a common sight in Ireland, just as it is in parts of Poland now. However I doubt that the younger generation will continue the practice any more than they did in Ireland. As the older generation dies out so will the custom of the headscarf.

(another example I've just found: painting eggs),

But they paint eggs in Germany too. Does that make Germans more eastern in their culture??

they just feel it's not really accurate. They know they're a sort of mix of these different cultures. They cannot consider themselves Eastern (only)

Spot on as Jon would say. They are a mixture.

By the way InPolska you mention their 'mentality' quite a lot. In what way do you see the Polish mentality as Eastern (taking communism out of the picture, we're all aware of the old Iron Curtain vibe that still prevails to some extent, but that has nothing to do with being a Slav).
Ktos 10 | 352    :-(
5 Nov 2015  #1,006

I do myself prefer the word Central, more than Eastern, cause "Eastern" makes me think of communism, you know, as the part of Europe that was beyond the Iron Curtain was called Eastern Europe...

Does not matter what it makes you think or what you associate it with, culturally Poland is an Eastern European country whether you like it or not or prefer otherwise. You are confusing communism as political force with communist influence on culture - two different but related things. Communist system's influence on the mindset of Polish people has been phenomenal, for, on one hand, it did not succeed in brainwashing Polish people as it has in China and, on the other hand, it enabled Polish people to stay away from western falseness and hence fostered natural, healthy behaviours. "Iron Curtain" is a negative connotation, a false one, I would just leave "Curtain" and it's great the way it has been, we are lucky that we were behind the "Curtain".
Atch 8 | 1,352    
5 Nov 2015  #1,007

it enabled Polish people to stay away from western falseness and hence fostered natural, healthy behaviours

Well my husband is Polish and he certainly wouldn't share that view. He thinks it fostered dishonesty,criminality, paranoia, apathy, hostility towards and suspicion of strangers. He's just old enough to remember the last years of the communist regime and how it was to live under it. Soviet communism was a tremendous evil that caused great misery to hundreds of millions of people.
InPolska 12 | 2,034    
5 Nov 2015  #1,008

@Atch: you keep talking to us about YOUR husband but your husband is only ONE Pole out of so many millions. Mine too was Polish (we married in 1990 at a time when Poland was most "exotic" and believe me, the différences were really huge back then...) and he was also one Pole out of so many millions. We don't base an explaination on only ONE example ;).

As a 100% westerner, I maintained that except for tiny minorities to be met among educated well off traveling urban classes, Polish mentality, culture and way of life is closer to Eastern than Western folks. Pure evidence! Social relationships are also more formal for instance; I refer and call people by their first names right away and I realize that it's a bit "weird" here.

Since "Eastern" has (for me and most people) NO negative connotation, I don't see what it's all about.
Atch 8 | 1,352    
5 Nov 2015  #1,009

Social relationships are also more formal for instance

InPolska you come from a country that has exactly the same formalities as the Polish language, addressing people with vous rather than tu just as Germany has du and sie. I don't think the average German business man trots up to a client with 'Tchuss' - I think that's the word for 'Hi' in German. You know what I mean anyway.

@Atch: you keep talking to us about YOUR husband

What are you so cross about?? I'm not presenting a dissertation you know, I'm just chatting with other human beings and that's how people chat.

I refer and call people by their first names right away and I realize that it's a bit "weird" here.

Maybe you shouldn't. Maybe you should accept that their culture is different and respect their cultural norms. Cheeky.

moved answer:
@Atch: not only grammar is very different in these 2 languages (normal ;)) but also people don't address others and don't talk about them the SAME way.
Wulkan - | 2,977    
6 Nov 2015  #1,010

@Wulkan; I have no time

Considering that you have the time to create a guest account and carry on posting under new user, it's more like you have no arguments rather than time :-)

... Curtain thing recedes, people will simply see Poland as plain old European with no east or west tagged on to it.

Spot on, I agree with that one. Especially the last bit.
Ktos 10 | 352    :-(
6 Nov 2015  #1,011

Well my husband is Polish and he certainly wouldn't share that view.

Your husband does not represent Polish people. It fostered criminality??? Crime was the lowest in Europe at the time of communism in Poland, police was stationed at every corner, you could walk safe at night knowing there is a policeman around, remind your husband of that, I remember. It fostered paranoia?? Yes, communist government spied on people through phone lines, but today the government is doing the same through phone lines, internet, cell phones and tv units, I prefer the old way, your husnabd should wake up to the reality of today's world in Poland. Apathy was never in existence in Poland, we are the opposite of apathetic, we are always engaged in political affairs and more aware of what the government is up to than you in the West - it is therefore harder to brainwash us, except your husband. Like I put it, your husband is not the most informed or the best judge of political or social systems.
Ironside 42 | 7,695    
7 Nov 2015  #1,012

except for urban well off and educated classes is culturally (including food, but not only) closer to Eastern Europe

Poland is not France that is not a brainier Capitan Obvious, I would take any day dumplings over fried snails or frogs, that disgusting food, why don't you put in flies for a good measure.

Most Poles also physically look more Eastern Europeans

Sunshine, there is no eastern European look like there is no western European look, you according to your own snobbish western progressiveness standards are being racist. I don't care about that but I'm always ready to point out an obvious hypocrisy and double standers deployed by our holier than thou PF snobs.

I think that an average Pole and an Albanian differ in many things including "looks."

what about all the old women outside main cities wearing colorful headscarves?

Again, so what? Look at your own movie stars from the 60' silly goose. There are not uniformity - that is a good thing, don't you think?

Why Poles don't like to be put into Eastern European shoes?
It is quite simple really:
1, because graphically Poland doesn't belong to eastern Europe,
2, because culturally Poland doesn't belong to eastern Europe,
3, Poland culture is basically western.
Poland stopped to be under the soviet boot 25 years ago, evidently it is not enough time for westerners to get used to the new reality, they rather remain stuck in their own rectum claiming that their own farts are smelling sweet, much sweeter than fresh air.

So be it.
Live and let live. :)
Wulkan - | 2,977    
7 Nov 2015  #1,013

what about all the old women outside main cities wearing colorful headscarves?

So did the old women in Ireland in the 80's so you just put Ireland in Eastern Europe by your standards, well done :-)
Grzegorz_ 52 | 6,248    
7 Nov 2015  #1,014

One just need a quick look at the map to know that Poland is a central European country. If Poland is in Eastern Europe then where Moscow is ? In Central Asia ?

Regarding economy, we are just about to get ahead of Greece, ahead of Portugal in 3-5 years. Will we become "western" then... ? Regarding culture, there's simply no east/west division. For example each of Finland, Belgium, Portugal, Ireland is different on that matter. One would end up with at least 6-7 groups trying to sort European countries "by culture".

It seems people, who strongly insist that Poland is "Eastern European" are mainly some westerners with inferiority complex. Same like with calling themselves "expats". I guess when they have no other achievements, thinking about being "exotic expat" among "Eastern Europeans" is what they are left with.
JanekP    
8 Nov 2015  #1,015

for food and language, Eastern Europe
for religion and alphabet, Western Europe
Ironside 42 | 7,695    
8 Nov 2015  #1,016

for food and language, Eastern Europe

There is no Eastern European language either.
As for food, there are no eastern European food, the only reason that cuisine in few countries in this part of Europe is somewhat similar is because of the Polish Commonwealth heritage.

for religion and alphabet, Western Europe

There is no western European religion as there is no western European alphabet.
Atch 8 | 1,352    
8 Nov 2015  #1,017

no Eastern European language

no western European religion

no western European alphabet.

You're an awkward little devil aren't you. You know quite well what the poster means:
Language: the Polish language belongs to a different group to those of Western Europe, it's a Slavic language.
Religion: Roman Catholic as opposed to Orthodox.
Alphabet: Roman as opposed to Cyrillic.
jon357 55 | 10,801    
8 Nov 2015  #1,018

for food and language, Eastern Europe
for religion and alphabet, Western Europe

That's very accurate, although I'd add that the partitions of the Nineteenth and early Twentieth Centuries still have some bearing. Kraków has a distinct Mitteleuropa feel whereas Warsaw is solidly Eastern Europe.
Ironside 42 | 7,695    
8 Nov 2015  #1,019

You know quite well what the poster means:

No, I don't what he means. I know what I read. I'm not a mind reader like you.
JanekP    
8 Nov 2015  #1,020

@Jon
Thats true is very hard to generalise to al Poland, the eastern part is sure more "Russian"
That's make the country even more a melting pot between west and east

@Atch
That's exactly what I meant



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