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18 Signs You Were Raised by a Polish Family in the US

Poland United States Student Work
by Adrienne B May 6, 2015

1. You find Scrabble frustrating because you see word opportunities in both languages.

Unfortunately, you can’t write “konstantynopolitańczykowianeczka,” the longest word in Polish, or anything using “sz” “cz” “rz” because they don’t count as words in American Scrabble.

2. You speak Polish.

For a time, you actually thought the only language in the US was Polish, because every single person around you spoke it.

3. You know that the “bar” in the house is everywhere.

Bottles can be found in cabinets, closets, attics, and basements. It’s not just one place, it’s the whole house.

4. You went to Polish school or religious classes in Polish.

Your parents signed you up for Polish school where you learned history and language, or for religious classes at a Polish parish. Or probably both.

5. Your parents’ close family friends are your extended family.

And you call these friends your “aunts, uncles, and cousins” even though they have no direct blood relation to you.

6. You turn to these “aunts, uncles, and cousins” instead of Angie’s List or the Yellow Pages.

You’ve got no one else to help you shorten your pants or fix the plumbing issue. After all, the rest of your family is in Poland, and you weren’t raised to go shopping to fix these things.

7. You grew up hearing stories of how long lines were during Communism.

Your parents and grandparents told you of how little they had growing up, how hard life was, and this was your reason to work hard and excel in life.

8. You find American weddings to be downright dull.

Where’s the “Sto lat!” and all the crazy games that everyone plays? And why is the wedding ending at 9 pm? We demand it continue until at least 5 am.

9. You’ve asked your parents to move back, but they always say no.

You’ve wanted to live in Poland, and still have no idea why your parents say no despite all the good memories. If your extended family can make it there, why couldn’t you and your parents?

10. There are always new family members showing up on your doorstep.

You don’t know 1/3 rd of your family, because it’s that large. And somehow the people who show up on your doorstep are related to you through your grandmother’s great-grandfather’s brother, or something like that.

11. You know that Kosciusko and Pulaski are not just a skyway, bridge, or town.

They’re actual, historical figures that fought in the American Revolutionary war to help the colonies gain their freedom. And it pisses you off (or you cry internally) when a person asks “Who is Kosciusko?” and someone else responds, “A bridge.”

12. You know the struggle of independence vs being family-oriented all too well.

Because, darn it, as an American, you’re taught to be independent, but as a Pole, you must be family oriented. Self-identity crises often happen there.

13. There’s plenty of puns to be found in English about Polish.

“Oh look, I just ran into a Pole!” said a friend who ran into you at a store.


“Hand me the Polish Remover…” *gulp*

14. You celebrate all the secular Polish holidays and the secular American ones.

So you’ll celebrate Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and Labor Day twice. You also celebrate Veteran’s Day (November 11th), but let’s not forget that it’s Poland’s Independence Day. May 3rd is Poland’s Constitution Day, and in the US you have July 4th. You need a planner to keep all that straight in your head.

15. Polish religious holidays seem to last forever.

And they require a lot of work. After midnight mass on Christmas Eve, it’s dinner party after dinner party from Christmas Day until New Year’s Day. During Easter, you’re spending so much of your free time from Wednesday until Sunday in church that it becomes your second home. So you kind of have a love / hate relationship with Thanksgiving in the US, because it’s the only day that you can stuff your face without going to church at some ridiculous hour.

16. You also follow the traditions from Poland.

That means you have Opłatek for Christmas Eve dinner, and you get your basket filled with bread, meat, eggs, and other goodies blessed the day before Easter.

17. You know that Tłusty Czwartek (Fat Thursday) = Pączki Day

The round, fluffy, jelly-filled donut with powdered sugar or glaze is the one thing everyone happens to be eating and bringing over for Fat Thursday.

18. You’re wondering why the American kids watch so much TV and play video games.

What is this black magic? Let’s go play “Raz, Dwa, Trzy Baba Jaga Patrzy,” outside or explore the park.

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