Thursday, February 18, 2010

Love is in the air

These are the results of the Valentine's school competition for the best declaration of love, read below three best ones!

Ewa Stawiarska:

I - because you are my idol.
L - because you light up my life.
O - because your beauty overwhelmed me at first sight.
V - because you give my world vivacious colours.
E - because you elevate my self-esteem.
Y - because you never yell
O - because you outran every other man.
U - because you understand me.
Basically, I love you, baby!

Michał Grotowski:

Hey, hi, hello,
I know you might hate me.
I know you can't look at me straight.
I know that the thought of me repulses you.
But I just want you to know how much I love you.
In fact, more than fat loves cake.
So how about another chance?

Maja Kruczalak:

look at me
I'll create your dream
reality escapes or so it may seem
but truth is only what you believe
I'll give you faith without deceit
I'll make you forget
purple echoes, screaming height
fossilized thoughts, second sight,
I'm in love with you
and it's crushing my heart

Monday, February 15, 2010

St. Valentine’s Day in Chełmno

St.Valentine’s Day has made new entry in the Polish Culture. However, it is celebrated wholeheartedly in the unique Polish style. All lovers manage to gather at Chelmno, the lover’s city, where a historical Valentine altar is present and the relics of Saint Valentine, the patron saint of lovers, have bee preserved for several hundred years in the local parish church. Lovers and singles pray for a happy marital life to the couples who gathered here centuries ago and St.Valentine who got them married.

Chelmno is a northern Polish hill station (situated between Torun and Gdansk) with a few thousand local population and tremendous natural beauty.14th February in Chełmno is a day one of its kind, many love and romance-themed events are organised throughout the city including rock concerts, brass band parades, competitions and a wide array of other performances. Students and scouts make a huge heart of thousands burning lanterns in the market square. After dark, a singing concert is held there that fills the air with romantic lyrics and songs. St. Valentine’s Day in Chełmno traditionally ends in a fireworks display.

Valentine couples declare their love for each other and exchange love quotes. Men present spectacular floral arrangements, made of red roses and bows, to their date. Heart shaped cookies, cakes, pastries and buns, specially prepared for the occasion, accompanied with greeting cards, are presented to women from their men. One can imagine very well that how romantic and women respecting are the Polish.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Valentine's Day (in Polish: Walentynki)

Saint Valentine's Day festival is celebrated in a big way in countries around the world ! It is interesting to note that the popularity of this ancient festival has grown several folds and is said to be increasing by the year as more and more people are getting influenced by the idea of celebrating love and lovers. The present generation holds the festival in high regard and celebrates the day by expressing love not just to their sweethearts but everyone they hold dear and special.

Valentine's Day has not been celebrated in Poland until very recently. Poland had been behind the Iron Curtain for quite some decades, only after the collapse of the Eastern European Block in 1989 and the consequent opening of Poland's borders this well known, especially in English-language cultures holiday entered Polish society. Romantic Poles were very quick in adopting Valentines Day and nowadays it as popular in Poland as anywhere else.

As a result, men in Poland are now "burdened" with two occasions to adore their ladies with gifts and flowers, as the old custom of Women's Day (in Polish: Dzien Kobiet) is still very popular as it used to be in the communist times. It is celebrated on March the 8th of each year. Women's Day is the old Polish version of the Valentine's Day with the one difference that all women are on the receiving side while all men are on the giving side. While the Valentine's Day is more privately celebrated between the lovers, the Women's Day is celebrated more as a national holiday for all women, whether they are 8, or 80 years old. At that day all women in Poland receive special attention (usually in the form of flowers) not only privately, but also at schools and at work (hospitals, offices, etc.). In addition to flowers, they sometimes receive greeting cards, which are not that popular in Poland as they are in English-language cultures.

It is interesting how popular greeting cards are in English-language cultures. In Poland people do not send greetings cards to their friends or family who live in the same town. In English-language cultures people do not only send them to far away places where they cannot communicate the message personally, but often take a greeting card with them to hand it personally to the addressee. For example, when they go to a wedding, or a birthday party, in addition to flowers or a gift, they also bring a greeting card.

Early Valentine's Day Celebration
Valentine's Day Festival is said to have originated in pagan times when people celebrated February 14th in honor of the Roman God of Fertility. This February fertility festival celebration that also marked the beginning of spring was known as the Feast of Lupercalia. In such festivals boys drew out names of girls from a box. They would then be regarded as a couple for a year. Sometimes these couples would fall in love and even marry. Christian Church decided to turn the pagan event into Christian celebrations in honor of St Valentine. Gradually, people began to celebrate February 14th by expressing love for their sweethearts.

In the 14th century Valentine's Day began to be celebrated with loved ones and a large feast was organized to mark the day. In 16th century began the custom of exchanging gifts between lovers with the passing of paper Valentine. Initially, Valentine's Day cards were usually handmade and given anonymously. During the 1800s much larger hand-painted copperplates molded in the shape of hearts replaced paper cards. In later years, the copperplates gradually gave way to woodcuts and carvings and lithographs. By the middle of the 18th century, Valentine's Day become popular amongst the masses and it became a common tradition for all social classes to secretly exchange small tokens of lover or handwritten love notes called Valentine. In 19th century began the custom of sending mass-produced Valentine's Day greeting cards. This custom is very much in vogue even today.

Valentine's Day Celebration in Present Times
In present times, Valentine's Day Festival celebrations are massive in several countries across the globe. The festival has emerged as a popular dating and gift-giving festival and therefore has a major social and economic significance. It may be noted that Valentine's Day started as a romantic festival but today the festival has increased in scope. These days, Valentine's Day is essentially regarded as festival that celebrates love between individuals and not just lovers. People therefore wish ‘Happy Valentine's Day' to parents, teachers, siblings, friends or any other person special to them.

Though there are various traditions and customs associated with the festival, the most popular way of celebrating Valentines Day is by expressing love to sweethearts and dear ones with an exchange of gifts. Some of the most traditional Valentine's Day gifts exchanged between lovers are fresh flowers, chocolates and cards. Jewelry is also fast emerging as the most sought after Valentine's Day gift for women. In the modern technologically advanced age, exchange of text messages between friends and loved ones has become a norm.

Going on dates with beloved is the other major way of celebrating Valentine's Day Festival. Restaurants see a busy time as people celebrate the day of romance with a candle light dinner. People also participate in Valentine's Day dance parties and balls organized by various clubs and hotels. Private parties are also organized in homes and farmhouses where young and the old have a blast. Some couple use the occasion to propose their beloved while some chose to get engaged on the festival that celebrates love and lovers.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Tłusty Czwartek or Fat Thursday

Wayfarers with a sweet tooth will find that they've got a treat in store this week, as Thursday 11th is Tłusty Czwartek (Fat or Shrove Thursday). Poles forget about their diet and eat huge quantities of doughnuts or pączki - pronounced pounchki.

Traditionally a day of indulgence at the tail-end of the pre-Lent Carnival, Fat Thursday has somehow evolved into a doughnut extravaganza. It is one of those days before the Ash Wednesday that is dedicated to eating a lot of fat food that will be forbidden to eat during Lent. The custom of making and eating doughnuts on this day stems from the need to use up fat, eggs and dairy products before the fasting and abstinence of the Christian festival of Lent. Thus one can have one final "sweet treat" before that period begins. The celebration is equivalent to Pancake Tuesday in England, and Fetter Dienstag in Germany.

An impressive 100 million doughnuts (paczki) will be scoffed on the big day, averaging out at 2 and a half per person. Traditional families hold that chomping the doughnuts brings good luck for the rest of the year. Indeed, the more you munch, the better luck you'll have. You've never had a finer excuse to get stuck in.

First-time visitors to Krakow might try the much-loved Michalek bakery on ul. Krupnicza, their doughnuts are supposed to be the best in the city(be warned though, some shoppers buy more than 100 doughnuts per person and you may end up queuing up to five hours!!!). Remember that in Poland, doughnuts traditionally come with rose jam, or more modern version with advocat – you are advised to try both!

The one who came up with the idea that on Shrove Thursday everybody's supposed to eat as many doughnuts as possible and it's a good thing to do, should get an award. I've just eaten my fourth one today and believe me, it's not the last one! Who's gonna eat more?