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Snapshot of Poland – Polish is the official language of Poland. The Roman Catholic Church is the largest religious denomination in Poland, though other religious groups are also present. The Polish population is generally considered to be more devout than that of other European nations. Poland is generally considered a peaceful and open-minded country. Electronic music such as techno and House music are popular in Poland, as well as heavy metal music. Soccer is the country’s most popular sport, though other outdoor activities such as hiking, mountain biking, and skiing are also quite popular. Basketball, ice hockey, and volleyball also have some followings. Polish cuisine includes dishes such as bigos (a meat and cabbage stew), pierogi (dumplings filled with potatoes, meat, or other ingredients), kielbasa sausages, and kotlet schawbowy (a breaded pork dish similar to schnitzel). It is common for a soup or other appetizer such as herring or a vegetable salad to be served before a meal’s main course. Bread is also a staple of Polish meals, and bread stands and bakeries are common. American fast food restaurants are not very popular, rather, Polish restaurants and Turkish doner kebab restaurants are preferred by most of the population.
The Church in Poland has a very small presence. Since its first missionaries were received in 1892, Poland has seen very small growth in the Church. Currently there are 1,780 members in Poland, with 3 stakes and 14 congregations in cities across the country. The nearest temple is the Freiberg, Germany Temple a few hundred miles across the border. Although the missionary work is difficult, Poland is considered one of the more religious countries in Europe, which should give missionaries many teaching opportunities. Missionaries are often called to serve in positions of leadership and to help in the congregations to which they are assigned, aside from normal proselyting duties.
Polish cuisine is rich in meats, especially pork, chicken, and beef, winter vegetables, and spices. Pasta is also used often along with eggs and cream. The main meal is usually eaten around 2 p.m. and is typically larger than a North American Lunch. They are often served in multiple courses which might include a traditional polish soup, a main meal consisting of a serving of meat with side dishes made of potatoes, rice, or vegetables (such as sauerkraut), and a dessert which might include a poppy seed pastry or Polish donuts. Some famous Polish cuisines include:
Pierogi- Dumplings made of unleavened bread which are boiled and then baked or fried. They are traditionally stuffed with potato filling, sauerkraut, ground meat, or cheese.
Bigos- A traditional savory stew composed of meat, cabbages, tomatoes, and honey. Meats often include sausage, beef, or ham. It is often known as “the hunter’s stew.”
Kielbassa- Polish sausages made from a variety of meats including pork, beef, turkey, chicken, veal, or lamb that are either served smoked or fresh.
Missionaries can expect to walk a lot and use varies forms of public transportation. There are train systems that run throughout the country which are often used by missionaries to access all parts of the mission. Within the cities there are buses, trams (streetcars), and taxis which missionaries use to travel to all parts of their areas. Missionaries also walk extensively when public transportation is not available or out of their budget. So bring good shoes!
Poland, like much of Europe is generally very safe. The police force is well trained and organized and does a great job of protecting the general public. American missionaries and missionaries who are still learning the language should always be aware of people trying to take advantage of them, such as taxi drivers or local shop owners. Also in any city with a large population, missionaries should always be on the look out for petty theft and other crimes of that nature. Natural Disasters occur vary rarely in Poland. Occasionally there are fires or floods, but they are very rare.
Poland is known for having a very high level of tolerance for people from all cultures, religions, and beliefs. Minorities are highly protected by the Polish Constitution.
There are many traditions in Poland that are linked to holidays, such as the Polish Christmas and Polish Easter. On Christmas every year, Poles are expected to have their homes as clean as possible both in and out and they watch the weather closely on Christmas Day. They believe that both the state of their homes and the weather can predict how well the coming year will go for the family. Evey Christmas Eve, a traditional dinner is served, called Wigilia, which begins with the family ceremonially eating the oplatek or Christmas Wafer. The family then eats a traditional dinner of fish, beetroot soup and ravioli. Christmas trees are decorated and a bundle of straw is placed underneath. Children take turns pulling straw from the bundle, with the color of the straw representing how the upcoming year will turn out for them (green meaning wealth or marriage, black meaning bad luck, etc.).
Easter is also celebrated starting Palm Sunday a week before and every day has an individual celebration.
Many festivals are celebrated throughout the year in different parts of the country celebrating holidays and traditions ranging from heritage celebrations to pagan holidays.
Occasionally Poles greet each other by kissing cheeks. Men often greet older women with a kiss on the hand, but generally hand shakes are the most common form of greeting.
It is well received if you offer to help a host a or hostess clean up after a meal.
Wypas- “cool/ nice”
ziom, kolo – “dude”
fiksum-dyrdum – “insanity, crazy”
Kumam czaczę – “understood very well”
Winter coat. Winters get cold in Poland some come prepared!
Good shoes. Missionaries walk a lot in Poland. Get shoes that are sturdy and warm.
There is a pouch service that the church offers to send letters to the Poland Warsaw mission. The letters are sent to Salt Lake City and then sent to the mission home with other letters being sent to the mission. Packages can be sent directly to the mission home using the regular postal service.
Swietych w Dniach Ostatnich
Ul. Wiertnicza 135, 1 Pietro
“Poland has a lot of history to it so a unique experience is being able to talk with people who lived through World War 2, the German occupation, as well as the Russian occupation.”
“Missionaries are loved by the members and the members that are active are very strong and have awesome testimonies. When I was there some missionaries were still being used as Branch Presidents, which was an amazing and humbling experience. I think the current Mission President is trying to get away from that, but missionaries might still have the opportunities to serve in similar capacities.”
**Did you serve in the Poland Warsaw Mission? If so we would love to hear your advice and your stories! Please contact us at email@example.com**