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Polish traditions and customs? I'm writing a crime novel that takes place in Poland.


Jikkler 3 | -
30 Dec 2014  #1
Are there any traditional signs of trust, allegiance, loyalty, or other things like that in Poland? Like variations of handshakes, or maybe you hug more? I know with Italians, they are much more sentimental and open about love than Western culture.

I'm writing a crime novel that takes place in Poland, and I would like to use real customs.
Magdalena 3 | 1,837
30 Dec 2014  #2
Some people will be more open while others will be more reserved. Don't rely on stereotypes. Is there any practical / real reason why your novel is based in Poland? Do you have any knowledge of the country? Have you visited? Because I can't imagine writing a novel set in e.g. Belgium (I've never been there). The only thing that comes to mind that could help you, apart from spending lots of time in Poland, is watching a lot of Polish movies of all genres to get an idea of how people behave.
smurf 39 | 1,982
30 Dec 2014  #3
Polish men shake hands every single time they meet each other.
Hugs are rare but happen between close friends.
Sometimes men kiss each other as a greeting, like once on each cheek, but sometimes 3 times.
However, this is rare now and more confined to rural areas.

Women kiss each other on the cheek each time they meet. Depending on what part of the country you live in it can be once, twice or three times.
Magdalena 3 | 1,837
30 Dec 2014  #4
Polish men shake hands every single time they meet each other.

Not all men by far; and many women choose to shake hands also. It all depends on the social context of the situation.

Sometimes men kiss each other as a greeting, like once on each cheek, but sometimes 3 times.
However, this is rare now and more confined to rural areas.

Men only typically kiss if they are family members getting together after a long absence or if they are exchanging Christmas or Easter wishes. Most find it slightly embarrassing and only do it because of tradition. A lot of women have the same attitude.

Women kiss each other on the cheek each time they meet.

Not true - I am a Polish woman and have lived in PL most of my life, and have never kissed or been kissed by my female friends as a typical greeting. Some admittedly do the "mwa mwa" thing where they kiss the air near their friend's ear ;-) but I would never say it's something every woman always does when greeting a friend.

You forgot to mention hand kissing (male to female) which is now very rarely done, and usually has either a flirty context or is reserved for very majestic old ladies, who usually extend their hand for a kiss as a matter of course.

All in all, all the above behaviours happen but none is predominant; Polish men do shake hands more often than say American men, but the handshake is not significant in any way, it's like saying "hi". As to kissing and hugging, surprisingly enough, I have been kissed and hugged a lot more often by my English friends here in the UK than by my Polish friends ever! ;-)
JollyRomek 7 | 481
31 Dec 2014  #5
I wouldn't put it down as "tradition" but it seems that Polish people, when waiting for the elevator, like to wait right infront of the doors of the elevator, appearing all surprised when the door opens and someone is trying to get out. Of course, making space for the person trying to get out appears to be too much to ask.

Some goes for trams, busses, trains or anything else that has doors and moves.
kaz200972 2 | 229
31 Dec 2014  #6
If you can spare the time and money try spending a month in Poland. Visit some rural areas and also some non tourist cities like Lodz and Plock; these places will give you an idea of real Poland.

Learn a few Polish phrases, a bit of the history and foodstuffs for authenticity in the book. In the UK there are many Polish immigrant workers and shops, maybe it's similar in Canada??? Try going to some of the shops if there are any near you, it's worth a trip for the cakes and salad dressings alone! Good luck and let us know if your book is published, you'd get quite a few readers in Britain!

Is there any practical / real reason why your novel is based in Poland? Do you have any knowledge of the country? Have you visited? Because I can't imagine writing a novel set in e.g. Belgium (I've never been there). The only thing that comes to mind that could help you, apart from spending lots of time in Poland, is watching a lot of Polish movies of all genres to get an idea of how people behave.

I get your meaning but if I could write a legible sentence I'd write a thriller about Poland because even after many visits and knowing many Poles, the place still seems exciting.
smurf 39 | 1,982
31 Dec 2014  #7
Not all men by far

Usually they do.

many women choose to shake hands also

When meeting for the first time. Friends and relations usually kiss.

Not true

It is true.

I am a Polish woman and have lived in PL most of my life, and have never kissed or been kissed by my female friends as a typical greeting

Then you are a strange breed.
All of my Polish female friends kiss me when I meet them. In business my hand is shaken yes, but in informal meeting it's a kiss.

You forgot to mention hand kissing

I didn't mention it because it doesn't exist anymore.

ut the handshake is not significant in any way, it's like saying "hi"

THat's exactly why it is significant. In most countries saying 'hi' is enough in Poland it is customary to both say 'hi' and shake hands. Or at the very least give a żółwik (fistbump)

I wouldn't put it down as "tradition" but it seems that Polish people, when waiting for the elevator, like to wait right infront of the doors of the elevator, appearing all surprised when the door opens and someone is trying to get out. Of course, making space for the person trying to get out appears to be too much to ask.

Some goes for trams, busses, trains or anything else that has doors and moves.

Hahahahaha! Very funny :)
Roger5 1 | 1,458
31 Dec 2014  #8
Polish men shake hands every single time they meet each other.

I'd say that was pretty much true unless they work together and they meet at work. Having said that, I shake hands with colleagues if I haven't seen them for a while (more than two days!)

Sometimes men kiss each other as a greeting, like once on each cheek, but sometimes 3 times.
However, this is rare now and more confined to rural areas.

A few years ago some friends, a youngish Warsaw couple, joined us for Sylwester, and I was a little taken aback when the guy kissed me at midnight. Other than that, straight men kissing each other is confined to family members at the airport, as far as I've seen.

I met a woman friend on the street the other day and we kissed (left, right, left). Normal stuff. If women friends come to the house, there are kisses all round.

You forgot to mention hand kissing

I didn't mention it because it doesn't exist anymore.

I haven't seen this for a while, but it does still happen, usually when a pervy old sod meets a nice young lady.
All in all, Poles are more tactile than first impressions suggest.
seriously
4 Jan 2015  #9
British guys shake their hand only when they meet for the first time. Polish guys shake their hands each time they meet sort of to say 'Hallo'. Male family members do the same. If you are the only female there you may extend your hand and do the same if you don't want to be left out.

If it's your family member you usually give them a hug (both men and women) but I think that men kissing each other when they are not the members of the same family is extremaly rare.

I don't kiss women and I am not kissed by them. Exceptions: my mother and my sister because we see each other every 2/3 years so it is an important and rare event.

I'm Polish.


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