Poland unforgettable memories

Overview

Language

Polish is the official and spoken language in Poland. It is also the mother tongue of about 97% of Polish citizens. In big cities like Warsaw, Gdansk, Krakow, Poznan, Lodz people speak quite good English, and, more rarely, German and French. There are a lot of Poles who speak Russian.

In tourist regions of Poland there are signs in English, sometimes in German. Menus in restaurants are usually in Polish, although in big cities and tourist regions they are often in both Polish and English or German.

The Polish language belongs to the most difficult languages to learn by non - native speakers.

Other languages spoken:
Kashubian in northern Poland - West Slavic language spoken by Kashubians (ethnic group of this area - about 50000 people),
Silesian dialect - spoken by ethnic groups of Silesia (ab.60 000 people)

Time Zone

Poland is in the Central European Time Zone. Central European Standard Time (CET) is 1 hour ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT+1)

In summer Poland uses daylight saving, with clocks put forward one hour to GMT+2. Summer time begins in March and ends in October, when clocks are put back to GMT+1.

National Holidays

There are 11 days during the year when the Polish celebrate national holidays. Then, the work is off and almost all public and private institutions are closed (including supermarkets, banks & post offices). Restaurants and cafés are open, the same with the most of tourist attractions (museums etc.), but it's recommended to check it before going there.

Polish National Holidays:
  • 1st January - New Year
  • 6th January - Epiphany
  • Easter (Sunday & Monday, moveable: 12-13 April 2009, 4-5 April 2010, 24-25 April 2011, 8-9 April 2012)
  • 1st May - Labour Day
  • 3rd May - Constitution Day
  • Corpus Christi (Thursday, moveable: 11th June 2009, 3rd June 2010, 23rd June 2011, 7th June 2012)
  • 15th August - Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
  • 1st November - All Saints Day
  • 11th November - Independence Day
  • 25th & 26th December - Christmas
Other festives that are celebrated:
  • 14th of February - Saint Valentine's Day (lovers express their love sending Valentine's cards, presenting flowers or small gifts)
  • last Thursday before the Lent /usually in February/ - Fat Thursday (Poles eat then great amounts of doughnuts)
  • last Tuesday before the Lent /usually in February/ - Shrovetide (called also the Little Herring Day, end of the carnival when big parties are thrown)
  • Ash Wednesday /usually in February/ - beginning of the Lent (people go to churches and during a special holy mass have their heads sprinkled with ash as a symbol of penance)
  • 8th March - Women's Day
  • 21st March - Truant's Day (first day of spring, almost all the students illegally leave lessons and have fun)
  • 1st April - April Fool's Day
  • 1st June - Children's Day
  • 26th May - Mother's Day
  • 23/24 June - St. John's Night (beginning of summer, so there are a lot of open-air parties, concerts and barbecues; if it is by the lake, girls throw flower garlands with lit candles on the water)
  • 24th June - Father's Day
  • 30th November - St. Andrew's Day (according to the tradition, during the parties, people heat up the wax and pour it through the key to the bowl of water in order to predict what will happen in the nearest future)
  • 6th December - St. Nicolas (people buy or make small gifts for their family and friends and leave them in the shoes or specially prepared socks during the night)

School breaks: Despite national holidays, students and teachers have also summer vacations which start usually third or fourth week of June and finish with the end of August. There are also two winter breaks: one connected with Christmas (23rd December - 2nd January) and a two-week winter holidays between two terms of education (in January or February, depending on the voivodeship). Universities have their summer holidays from the beginning of July till the end of September, Christmas holidays same as schools and a week's winter break after the exam session in February.