Xenophobe's Guide to the Poles

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A polarized people

The Poles are either bubbling with life, or comatose; they love or they loathe. It is this total commitment to the occupation of the moment which earns them the reputation of being mercurial. As Hemar wrote in his song: “If only Poles did systematically and economically what they do spontaneously, they would be perfect.”


Necessity is the mother of invention

Key national characteristics are adaptability, a knack for improvisation, and the ability to make the best of what is available. A good Polish cook is one who can make gourmet soup from a rusty nail.


The Polish touch

Devotion to style pervades all areas of life: the table might be rickety, but it is covered with a snowy tablecloth and decorated with a vase of flowers.


Never say never

When the Communists rather foolishly tried to stop the Poles practicing their religion, the churches filled to overflowing. “Forbidden” is a term of encouragement to a Pole.