Polonia’s two best-loved holiday customs are opłatek-sharing on Christmas Eve and the Holy Saturday food-blessing custom. Both are practiced by some 95 percent of all families in Poland and a great many across Polish America. Over the generations they have grown into national heritage rituals.
Taken by Polish émigrés to the far corners of the earth, they provided a sense of cultural continuity in alien lands. Because they are warm, symbolic and generally appealing they have also caught on with many people non-Polish background who have been exposed to them.
Pol-Ams who attended parochial schools in their childhood recall the concept of “giving something up” for Lent. Back then, American society reinforced that notion. Well into the 1960s Kraft TV commercials touted their macaroni and cheese for Lent, and stores displayed signs: “Closed 12 to 3 on Good Friday.” Then came the baby-boomers raised on Dr Spock’s philosophy of permissivism. Self-indulgence, not self-denial, became the watchword of the day. Some people drifted away from pious Lenten practices through neglect or spiritual sloth. Others rejected them as medieval beliefs no longer relevant to modern times. Maybe it’s time to take a closer look at what might be called the four different aspects of Lent:
They beat beef jerkies and thin pepperoni
If you like beef jerkies, you’ll be crazy about kabanosy, Poland’s top meaty snack. The kabanos (plural: kabanosy) is a firm, long, finger-thick dry pork sausage, whose name was derived from the Tartar word for pig. That seemingly exotic derivation harks back to the sprawling medieval Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth which stretched all the way to the Black Sea and bordered on Turkey.
Britain has never been at war with Poland but has a long history of words and attitudes that that have slighted, offended, shortchanged or underestimated Poles. After World War I British Prime Minister Lloyd George was credited with saying at the Paris Peace Conference that awarding Silesia (Śląsk) to Poland was like giving a watch to a monkey. England and France made good their pledge to declare war on Nazi Germany in case it attacked Poland, but that’s where it ended. There was no follow-up and within a year Hitler’s troops marched into France, while the Luftwaffe pounded the United Kingdom.
It will be exactly 50 years ago this summer when our parents sent us to Polish Boy Scout summer camp for 2 weeks in Highland, MI.
We were 12 years old and just learning to live under a tent. The tents were old military surplus and had no floors or mosquito nets. I remember that when we went to sleep we would cover our faces with a handkerchief to prevent the mosquitoes from biting us. There were 5 of us in every tent and when it rained, the water would flow thru the tent.
Today’s globalized marketing is designed to extract as much money as possible from people’s wallets and credit cards during a lengthy build-up period, only to swiftly refocus on the next big commercial extravaganza down the line. Some Americans take down their Christmas trees as early as December 26th, as the commercial powers that be urge them to think ahead to New Year’s Eve celebrations, fashions, hairdos, decorations and firework displays. But already on January 2nd, the hapless shopper starts getting bombarded with Valentine hearts, then come the green shamrocks of St Paddy’s Day (March 17th), followed soon thereafter by those omnipresent, buck-toothed Easter bunnies, and so it goes.
WARSAW - As pilgrims from around the world continue to pay their respects and pray at the tomb of blessed John Paul II in St Peter’s Basilica, parishes under his patronage are springing up. A tooth of the late Holy Father, his trademark cruciform crosier and the marble slab that had covered his temporary grave in the Vatican crypts have been returned to Kraków. The tooth had been accidentally knocked out by emergency frantically trying to save his life following the 1981 assassination attempt. His blood-stained stole is in the safekeeping of Cardinal Stansiław Dziwisz, the pope’s long-standing secretary and personal friend.
Like other countries, Poland has produced poets, novelists, composers, artists, scientists, military heroes, and statesmen who have enriched mankind’s heritage. It also boasts a number of natural and man-made wonders. But the land to which some 10 million Americans trace their ancestry has also made a number of rather unique, even pivotal contributions which have influenced the further course of European and even world history. Each of the brief entries below constitutes a thread many history buffs may enjoy further exploring online or in hard-copy form. And each contains a wealth of potential topics for school assignments, scholarly dissertations, historical fiction or even blockbuster movies.
Kamil Janton, the junior center for Eastern Michigan hailing from Tarnów, Poland only had two points but they were a big two points. He had only seven minutes of hard relief time but they were big rest minutes. He also was featured on the EMU game program titled, “United We Hoop.” “Kamil’s playing time really gave us some center relief help,” said Eastern Michigan University Coach Charles Ramsey after the game.
The American Council for Polish Culture (ACPC) held its Fall 2010 Board meeting in Elmira, NY. ACPC Pres. Debbie Majka and Dr. Maria Winnicka, President of the ACPC Affiliate Polish Arts Club of Elmira, NY cooperated to make this meeting one of accomplishments and enjoyment of our Polish culture.
DETROIT-- The University of Michigan kept their streak alive making the NCAA Men’s Ice Hockey Tournament, 20 years in a row by beating Northern Michigan, 2-1 in the CCHA Championship game.
Michigan, Miami, Alaska-Fairbanks and Northern Michigan all were seeded in the NCAA Tourney.
The Finals will take place at Ford Field in Detroit, April 8-10. There will be an adjacent Fan Fest at the GM-Winter Garden at the Ren-Cen. These will be the first ice hockey games ever at Ford Field. Seating will be about 35,000. Three game packages are still available starting at $40. 800-745-3000 and www.ticketmaster.com
WARSAW - 2009 marked the 30th anniversary of how the Polish people set about dismantling the Soviet power monopoly bit by bit. In 2009 Poland and the rest of the former Soviet bloc celebrated 20 years of freedom following the collapse of the Iron Curtain. The Germans tried to equate that event with the fall of the Berlin wall, but even they had to admit that “Es begann in Gdańsk” (it began in Gdańsk) and at the anniversary event had Lech Wałęsa start off a series of giant falling dominoes to symbolize the collapse of one Soviet-style regime after another.