What Does my Polish Name Mean?

Everybody recognizes a Polish last name (surname). In fact, if it looks unpronounceable, it’s probably Polish. Kowalski, Młynarski, Brzęczyszczykiewicz…maybe yours is even crazier. Much has been written about Polish last names, and I don’t pretend to be an expert. I did want to distill some of the information out there, though, in case you don’t…

Say What? How to Pronounce those Polish Letters

If you have no knowledge of the Polish language and want to learn it, no one will blame you for wanting to give up approximately 10 minutes after checking out the grammar and pronunciation. Polish is tough. Many learners agree that it’s one of the harder languages to learn if your native tongue is English.…

Gorzkie Żale: A Polish Lenten Tradition

One of the signs of Lent in the Polish community are the Gorzkie Żale, or Bitter Lamentations, sung at church on Sundays during that somber season. They’re a series of melancholic hymns about Jesus Christ’s passion and death, meant to be a form of grieving for His suffering. Here’s an example: The Gorzkie Żale are divided…

Sarmatia: Poland’s Mythic Golden Age?

In the 2011 movie Midnight in Paris, Owen Wilson plays a man lost in his time. His heart longs to have been born in 1920’s Paris, which he idealizes as an age grander, more magnificent than his own. His chief antagonist in the film dismisses this longing as “Golden Age Syndrome,” or the irrational, nostalgic…