Guest Author - Barbara Swiech
In Poland it is believed that guests bring the blessing to the house. Therefore the Poles say: “Gosc w dom, Bog w dom” (Guest in house, God in house!). There are also certain rules, unspoken once, that apply to the way that the guest should be treated when visiting Polish house.
How the guest is treated:
In traditional Polish houses there is a small feast organised when the visitor is planned to come. Get prepared for loads of food as well as some alcoholic welcome drinks (most likely vodka). As the housewife prepares all the meals herself – it would be very impolite not to try out any of them. Therefore keep it in mind, when paying a visit, and keep your stomach empty so that you would at least take a piece of each meal. You will see, that as soon as you sit down the food will be served. It might happen that even after you are stuffed with food the housewife will keep on filling your plate – and your each “no, thank you” will be answered by “just a little bit!”. Be gentle with saying “no” and try to understand that if the guest leaves the house hungry, it is a shame for the housewife.
If you are a rare guest in the house, you might find the people you visit overprotective. They feel that they must plan each minute of your stay so that you would not feel bored. They will, however, all smile and try to read from your face if you feel at home or not. They will entertain you, listen to you and talk to you...
How to behave as a guest:
In many Polish houses vodka is still considered “a must” when there is a guest. You, of course, can refuse but if you try a short drink you will show the hosts that you appreciate their hospitality.
It is still practised in many houses in Poland that when you enter for a visit you take off your shoes. You, as a guest, will very rarely be asked to do it though. Sometimes when you even take off your shoes without being asked to do it, the hosts will tell you that there is no need – although all the occupants do it dutifully.
It is Polish tradition that the neighbours would visit each other without prior notice. They would just stop by and be welcomed with care and attention. Although nowadays we all use phones, mobiles and other means of communication, the unexpected guests will never be refused to come. The regular visits happen especially on Sundays – when the acquaintances are invited after the Sunday service.
Traditional feasts are also organised for special celebrations. In some regions of Poland people celebrate their nameday. Polish calendars have descriptions what name is celebrated on each of a day of a year. A big feast is given out by the person whose nameday is celebrated and family and friends gather at one table. It is very wise to bring the present for that person and make sure that the following day is off – as the feast might take longer than you expect.
Unexpected guest at Christmas Eve dinner:
What is also interesting, during traditional Polish Christmas Eve dinner many housewives would put an empty plate and cutlery – for the unexpected guest. This tradition appeared in Poland in 15th century when people believed that the souls of their relations take part in the Christmas family dinner with them. Nowadays many people leave the plate as a sign that there is someone missing – let it be someone who passed away or someone who is far and cannot spend this family time with others.