Category: Cultural shock
Lexicon of cultural connotation: C – Constitution2013/05/08 17:09:00 Written by EwaMaslowska
The 3 of May is a national holiday in Poland. It is a celebration of the anniversary of the proclamation of the constitution in 1791. It was the first constitution in Europe, the second one in the world – after the American. The idea of the constitution was to reconstruct and strength the state by introducing a democratical way of governing the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and give more rights to the citizens, and develop a special program to protect peasants.
Unfortunately, the reformates’ could enjoy the victim of the constitution over the conservative groups only for 14 months. Under the pretext of defence the previous system and support the conservative opposition, a Russian Army attacked Poland in 1792. A desperate struggle to defend the constitution has failed. Poland fell under the rule of three neighbouring countries (Prussia, Austria and Russia) despite the Kościuszko insurrection (1794). Eventually, Poland lost independents for over 100 years. However, the spirit of the ideas of the constitution, the memory of the insurrection, a strong desire for freedom has never disappeared and after several uprisings and military activities during the First World War Poland regain its independence in 1918.
The May 3 was celebrated officially in 1972. Later on, it was banned by the occupants, but unofficial celebration has been continued to keep alive Polish aspirations for freedom. It was again made an official Polish holiday in April 1919 under the Second Polish Republic. During the communist time, it was removed from the list of national holidays, and in 1990, after the fail of the regime, the 3 May was restored and became the most important civil holiday. For Poles, the celebration of the May 3 Constitution is considered as a symbol of the best tradition of the history of the state and Polish culture.
Lexicon of cultural connotation: S – Stork (bocian)2013/05/08 16:21:00 Written by EwaMaslowska
Is a symbol of a spring, good luck and prosperity for the cottage the bird make their nest on. That is why it was considered a serious singe to spoil the nest or make a harm to a stork.
The birds are leaving Poland for the winter period and come back with the spring to the same place. If it happened that the stork is sick and cannot join the flock to take the journey over the ocean, the “hosts” take care of it during the winter.
Each year they are expected by the villagers and mostly welcome. People often install a wheel on the roof of the barn to encourage the stork to build a nest. In some regions, there is a tradition to bake special cookies (like a stork’s foot) to bring them back, in case of delay of their arrival. It is also magical practise to bring the spring.
Lexicon of Polish cultural connotation: K – Kiss (Kissing Day)2010/12/28 7:07:00 Written by EwaMaslowska
Kissing Day – 28 December or 6 July?
A kiss is primarily an expression of love, but also reverence, submission, respect and well wishes. It is the oldest way of communication, body language, overgrown rich symbolism. Kiss in Polish ‘całować’ is semantically associated with whole ‘cały’. This means not only the unity but also survival pol. ‘ocalić’.
The kiss, which farewells a knight or a hunter, was kind wishes and blessings ‘come back untouched ‘cały’. It was exchanged both by men and men and woman and men and had nothing to do with sexuality.
Sex free was also the kiss of respect. Kissing pop’s or bishop ring was the singe of reverence given to God. Kissing the national flag, sword blades, the Constitution belong to the gestures to show reverence to symbols.
In some countries, it was also a gesture of courtesy – like in Poland kissing lady’s hand in greeting and farewell. The custom is getting old fashion, but you can meet it even between young people.
The way of communication by a kiss is as old as humankind. It has been developing its meaning – direct and symbolic – with a culture of each language. Whatever it symbolize, the fundamental meaning of this gesture is expressing love with a strong sexual character, and that is why it is still celebrated as an international holiday. Why there are two different dates? It really doesn’t matter. Let’s kiss in the end and the middle of the year!
Cultural shock – fun or confusion?2010/01/09 17:00:00 Written by EwaMaslowska
Every foreigner living or working abroad is exposed to cultural shock. Whether it will be a harrowing experience, fun, or just confusion depends on the individual’s ability to adapt to the new environment.
Do you think the effects of cultural shock have ever touched you?
Whenever you think that the local community is strange or is behaving weirdly, it is a typical symptom of experiencing cultural difference, which in effect could lead to a real shock. It is an alarm bell proclaiming that you are different.
If an Englishman who is living abroad tried to drive on the left side of the road as is the custom in his country, it would be a disaster, and no doubt lead to a serious accident.
A cultural system like a language is a social product and is assimilated from our environment while we are growing up. It means that our lifestyle, our way of thinking, our value system, our communication strategy are assimilated as our natural codes from living in society. Usually, we are not even aware of it, although it is the foundation of our identity.
Only the confrontation with a different social or ethnic group makes us conscious of the differences. Naturally, behaviour different from our rules is considered strange. While it is strange for us, it is equally strange for the other side. While living among foreigners, we have the opportunity to conceptualize the differences and compare them with our system. Awareness of the differences is the first step of adaptation. The next one is to learn and understand the new system. The final step is to adopt it and to follow it up.
If you have problems with team building in Poland or with developing proper relationships with your Polish staff or colleagues, I will be pleased to help. However, to discuss the problem, I will need some information from you about your negative experiences. What caused communication difficulties? What kind of situation made you confused? What do you find most irritating in the behavior of Polish people? If you would like to share your experiences, I will try to explain the differences in the comments on my blog.
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