8 Surprising Things in Poland that will Cause a Culture Shock for Foreigners

Landscape of Warsaw, the capital of Poland

Poland became an even more popular country for Japanese to visit after the 2018 World Cup. In recent years, Poland has also seen quite an increase in the number of tourists and is now one of the booming vacation destinations in Europe. Along with all the amazing sightseeing spots, the rich culture and gourmet of Poland are really wonderful as well.


Furthermore 2019 marks the 100th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Japan and Poland. With this, we have here 8 interesting polish cultural practices that will surely surprise first time visitors and cause a real culture shock!


1. A solemn but fun Wedding!

In Japan, couples become officially together on the day when they submit their marriage certificate. However, this is not the case here. Poland, which is known to be a godly Catholic country, has a different set of rules from Japan when it comes to marriages. Following tradition, the polish couple is required to get prepared for marriage. Here, it is important to attend a “marriage course” for at least half a year or earlier before marriage.  Due to the strict rules and atmosphere, kissing after the vows on the day of the wedding is also frowned upon. However the party starts in the night, where there will be drinks, abundant food, music and dancing to celebrate the big day.


2. A gourmet surprise for Japanese travellers away from home

It is a well-known fact that Japanese culture is adored even in distant European countries and this is something for Japanese people to be proud of. In Poland, you can find many Japanese-related products. Everything from gourmet, entertainment, and even sports are common between Poland and Japan. The famous films directed by Kurosawa Akira and Pokémon are actually popular here. You can also savour one of the best sushi here in Europe.  It is quite surprising to find out that these foreigners know more about Japan and its culture than the Japanese.


3. Is this made in Poland?

Recently, the volume of imported goods from Poland to Japan has increased considerably. You will be able to find a number of Polish products in the Japanese retail shops that you visit. There are several items that are of Polish origin including Polish milk toffee candy “Krówki”, pickled cabbage “Sauerkraut”, luxurycrystal“Krosno”, blackcurrant sweets, frozen berries, alcoholic drinks, duvets, as well as deodorants that are really popular in Poland.


4. Do not judge by appearance! Surprisingly tasty gourmet

In Poland, you can find many rich in meat dishes that are influenced by Western Europe and also other dishes that offer the simplicity of Eastern Europe. Most polish cuisine, including the traditional Christmas Eve meal of carp fish will match the taste and savoury delight of Japanese. Some of the items may not look appetising at first glance, but they are absolutely delicious. You must try the Polish Borscht Soup “Barszcz”, which is a soup cooked with beetroot. There is also the Polish traditional blood sausage “Kaszanka”, which is made of pig’s blood and pig offal. Even though the appearance and ingredients may not be very appealing, their taste is absolutely delicious.


5. You’d want to drink these beverages on a daily basis!

During the hotter days of summer, here are the drinks that can help cool you down. There is nothing different in the way Poles satisfy their thirst in summers where you can find several drinks such as a sweet fruity beverage “Kompot”, “rhubarb juice”, and a fermented malt beverage “Kwas” (pictured above). In Poland, you can find a variety of juice beverages to satiate your thirst and we find these awesome drinks matching to Japanese taste buds.


6. Say Thank You to Poland for the brilliant bagels!

Even the French feel that Polish bread is delicious. However, here’s a popular bread that you will find only in Kraków, South Poland. That is the bagel, which is known as “Obwarzanek” in Polish. It is a perfect breakfast to have in the busy morning because it is heavy and filling. Although you may imagine eating bagels in a quaint little café, these delicious treat can be bought from little food stands as well.  There are four flavours available – salt, sesame, poppy seeds and cheese – available for only around 45 yen (about $0.41). The cheese bagel costs only about 10 yen ($0.09) more than the other flavours.


7. “Cultural differences” in terms of common holidays

During the holidays, Japanese love to travel with their families or to enjoy shopping with their friends. Poland, too, has many holidays, but instead of travelling, the Poles love spending their time with their families and relatives at home. There are two common national holidays between Japan and Poland – January 1st (New Year) and May 3rd (Constitution Day). Even though these two days are celebrated by both nations, the way they are enjoyed differs in a large extent.


8. The secret of Poland’s high education level starts from the elementary school!

The education system in Poland is of world class standards. One of the reasons is that Polish citizens do not have to pay for university tuition fees, thus the education level of most Poles are high. Furthermore in Poland, the education system is rather different from that of Japan. Compulsory education in Poland starts at the age of six and high school graduation is required in Poland, after which you may then decide whether to go ahead with higher education.


Poland is often considered to have few tourists, however with the direct flight services between Japan and Poland, the place has become more accessible for foreign tourists. More Polish visitors have been to Japan in the recent years as well with five flights connecting the two nations per week. With 2019 marking the 100thyear of excellent diplomatic relations between Poland and Japan, it is definitely a good year to travel there and understand more about the cultural richness of this fabulous nation.

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