I’m in my other homeland of Poland. While most of my family came from Ukraine, some of my family tree’s roots spread out into Poland (as well as Germany). Right now, I’m visiting Krakow, learning about its Jewish history, exploring salt mines, and drinking Polish vodka before heading up to Warsaw. Poland doesn’t get as much attention as it deserves, so in order to spread the love, here are some interesting facts about this amazing country:
The most popular dog name in Poland is “Burek,” which means “brownish-grey color.”
Among the European Union, the people of Poland marry the youngest.
Seventeen Nobel Prize winners, including four peace prize winners and five in literature, were born in Poland.
Astronomer Nicholas Copernicus, the first person to theorize that the Earth is not the center of the universe, was Polish.
Saint John’s Kupala is a holiday that predates Christianity and has people jumping over fires.
Marzanna is the Slavic goddess of winter, death, and nightmares. At the end of winter, Poles make straw dolls of her and decorate them with ribbons. When the snow starts to melt, they throw the dolls into the river, symbolically “killing winter” and thus welcoming spring.
During the 14th through 16th century, the Polish empire spread over most of Central and Eastern Europe.
In Poland, bananas are peeled from the blossom end.
Poland was a communist country from 1945 to 1989.
Over 50% of the land in Poland is dedicated to farming.
There were over three million Jews in Poland before World War II. After the war, that number dropped to 300,000.
Poland is home to Auschwitz, the most famous of the Nazi death camps. It’s located outside Krakow.
Almost 90% of the population is Roman Catholic.
Pope John Paul II was Polish.
The biggest section of any bookstore here is on books about Pope John Paul II.
Gingerbread is a traditional Polish dessert.
In Poland, a person’s name day is
considered more important than their birthday an important holiday. (This is actually quite common in northern Europe.) (Editor’s Note: Due to conflicting opinions about which holiday is more important, I’m changing the wording to simply “important.”)
When movies are dubbed for Polish TV, one man reads all the parts, even those of women and children.
Students make up twenty percent of the population of Krakow.
There’s a doctor on board every ambulance.
Warsaw is the capital city of Poland.
Rysy, in the Tatra Mountains, is the highest point in Poland at 2,499 meters.
The white-tailed eagle is the national symbol of Poland.
The highest mountain in Australia, Mount Kosciuszko, was named after Polish General Tadeusz Kosciuszko (1746-1817), who fought against the Russian Empire and in the American Revolutionary War.
The country’s first documented ruler of Poland was Mieszko I in the 10th century.
Famous musical composer Frederic Chopin was Polish.
So is famed director Roman Polanski.
Poland has seven separate neighbors: Germany, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Ukraine, Belarus, Lithuania, and Russia.
Central Europe’s only desert is located in Poland between Krakow and Czestochowa.
Polish military, police officers, and other uniformed services use a two-finger salute.
The name “Poland” comes from the Polans tribe, the former inhabitants of what is now western Poland.