Saint Florian

saint florian poland

A figure of Saint Florian in a display cabinet outside a fire station in Lubuskie, western Poland.

Florian was a Roman soldier, who in addition to his military duties, was also responsible for organizing firefighting brigades. Today he is widely associated with firemen in Poland and indeed in much of central Europe. There are figures of Saint Florian on fire stations and in churches throughout Poland. There’s even a rather famous Bas-relief of St. Florian on the Florian Gate in Kraków.

Koziołek Matołek

Koziolka Matolka

Koziołek Matołek (Matolek the Billy Goat) is a character first created by Kornel Makuszyński (story) and Marian Walentynowicz (art) in the 1930s. There were four books and a late 1960s animated cartoon series. All the stories centre on a not very bright but likable and friendly anthropomorphic goat searching for a place that makes goat shoes! In many ways he is the Polish equivalent of Winnie the Poo.

Watch an episode from ‘The Strange Adventures of Koziołek Matołek’ cartoon series here.

Related content on Polish Poland: Bolek and Lolek, another Polish cartoon character.


Mława poland

A photograph of Jews and Poles on ulica Płocka in Mława, c.1909. Note the Russian language sign.

Information on and images of Mlawa / Mława in the province of Mazowieckie, north-east Poland.

jewish mlawa

An early 1900s photograph of a Jewish dominated market on Ulica Warszawska, Mlawa, Poland.

mlawa jews

Another animated street scene. This time people on ulica Niborska, Mlawa, Poland, c.1914.

Some things you may not know about Mława:
- A great plague devastated Mlawa in 1661 / 1662 and again between 1708 and 1712.
- Around 6,500 of the Jews of Mlawa were killed between 1940 and 1942.
- Anna Tomaszewicz-Dobrska, the first Polish woman to practice as a medical doctor was born in Mlawa.
- A bugle call rings out from the tower of the 18th century Town Hall every day at midday.

mlawa polen

Russian soldiers being escorted by German soldiers in the Rynek (Market) area in Mlawa, Poland, c.1916.

More facts related to Mława:
- There are two railway stations in Mława. There were also, until the 1990s, two narrow gauge railways.
- Pope John Paul II was awarded the title of Honorary Citizen of Mława by the town council in 2003.
- The largest factory in Mława produces LG television and other electronic products.
- Official figures put the population at just under 31,000 in 2014.

mlawa prl communist

A communist-era (PRL) photograph of Stary Rynek in Mlawa, Poland. This image dates back to 1974.

Related content: Images and information on the nearby town of Plonsk.

Cabbage, Potato, Sausage and Beer!

Here’s a recipe we cook every week or two. It includes some of my father’s favourite ingredients, Cabbage, Potato, Sausage and Beer!


2 tablespoons olive oil
500 grams of smoked sausages
3 garlic cloves, diced
1 onion, diced
100 ml chicken or vegetable stock
1/2 cabbage, sliced
6 potatoes, cut into chunks
A can of Polish beer
salt and black pepper (to taste)


- Cut the smoked sausage into rough chunks. Add to a large pan and gently fry the sausage, garlic and onions for 5 minutes, or until browned.
- Add the stock, cabbage and potatoes to the pan. Cook for a further 10 minutes. Stirring now and again.
- Add the beer and salt and pepper. Cook for around 20 minutes more or until the potatoes are soft.

This is a quick and easy Polish recipe and a dish that all I’ve cooked it for have enjoyed.

Note: I substitute the fresh cabbage for sauerkraut now and again. This works equally well. Just be sure to rinse the sauerkraut in water before using.

Related content: Our recipe for Sauerkraut and Sausage Stew.

Where Poles Lived in 1918

poland map 1918

A 1918 / 1919 map of part of Central Europe. Areas that were to have plebiscites are marked.

Two maps showing where Poles lived in 1918

Here is a rather fine map published in the immediate post-First-World-War period. The map, marked by areas in red, shows the areas where more than 50% of the population were Poles or had declared themselves as Polish. This is a Polish map and one should be aware that similar maps produced by German publishers tend to differ, especially in regard to what became known as the ‘Polish corridor’ to the Baltic Sea.

poland 1918

A map showing the distribution of Poles at the end of World War One. Source: Geograficzno-Statystyczny Atlas Polski. Published in Lwów in 1921.

To see the map at full size click here. It is though a huge file so be patient if you have a slow internet connection.

The sort of information contained in maps such as this was used in drawing the borders of a newly independent Poland. The figures used to compile this map were drawn it is stated from various Polish documents dating from 1914 to early 1920 and the census of 1919.

Related content on Polish Poland:
- A pre-independence map showing Germany, Poland, and Russia.
- A 1920 map of Poland and the Baltic States.

The Rosary in Poland

Rosary Prayers in Poland

polish poland rosary

The Catholic Church is still a very important part of the every daily life of many Poles, and as such most Poles own a rosary of their own. Traditional Polish rosaries are made of wood. A wooden cross attached to a necklace of strung wooden beads.

Many Catholics use them as a sort of charm and hang a rosary from the interior rear-view mirror of their car as a sort of spiritual protection. Some simply wear their rosary as jewellery. But many Poles use them as a prayer tool and will follow the Catholic ritual below.

polish rosary

Two examples of traditional Polish rosaries. These were handmade in Lubuskie in western Poland.

How to Pray Using a Rosary.

First the Sign of the Cross is made and then the following words said while holding the rosary:

W imię Ojca, i Syna, i Ducha Świętego. Amen.

(In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.)

Wierzę w Boga, Ojca wszechmogącego, Stworzyciela nieba i ziemi, i w Jezusa Chrystusa, Syna Jego jedynego, Pana naszego, który się począł z Ducha Świętego, narodził się z Maryi Panny, umęczon pod Ponckim Piłatem, ukrzyżowan, umarł i pogrzebion. Zstąpił do piekieł, trzeciego dnia zmartwychwstał. Wstąpił na niebiosa, siedzi po prawicy Boga Ojca wszechmogącego. Stamtąd przyjdzie sądzić żywych i umarłych. Wierzę w Ducha Świętego, święty Kościół powszechny, świętych obcowanie, grzechów odpuszczenie, ciała zmartwychwstanie, żywot wieczny. Amen.

(I believe in God, the Father almighty creator of heaven and earth and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried. He descended into hell. On the third day he rose again from the dead. He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of God, the Father almighty. He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Holy Catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.)

Ojcze nasz, któryś jest w niebie święć się imię Twoje; przyjdź królestwo Twoje; bądź wola Twoja jako w niebie tak i na ziemi; chleba naszego powszedniego daj nam dzisiaj; i odpuść nam nasze winy, jako i my odpuszczamy naszym winowajcom; i nie wódź nas na pokuszenie; ale nas zbaw od złego. Amen.

(Our Father, who art in heaven hallowed be thy name; thy kingdom come; thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen.)

Zdrowaś Maryjo, łaski pełna, Pan z Tobą, błogosławionaś Ty między niewiastami, i błogosławiony owoc żywota Twojego, Jezus. Święta Maryjo, Matko Boża, módl się za nami grzesznymi teraz i w godzinę śmierci naszej. Amen.

(Hail Mary, full of grace. The Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou amongst women, And blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, Pray for us sinners, Now and at the hour of our death. Amen.)

Chwala Ojcu i Synowi i Duchowi Swietemu jak byla na poczatku, teraz i zawsze i na wieki wieków. Amen.

(Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.)

O mój Jezu, przebacz nam nasze grzechy, zachowaj nas od ognia piekielnego, zaprowadź wszystkie dusze do nieba, i dopomóż szczególnie tym, którzy najbardziej potrzebują Twojego miłosierdzia.

(Oh my Jesus, forgive us of our sins. Save us from the fires of hell. Lead all souls into heaven, especially those in most need of thy mercy. Amen.)

Witaj, Królowo, Matko miłosierdzia, życia, słodyczy i nadziejo nasza, witaj! Do Ciebie wołamy wygnańcy, synowie Ewy; do Ciebie wzdychamy jęcząc i płacząc na tym łez padole. Przeto, Orędowniczko nasza, one miłosierne oczy Twoje na nas zwróć, a Jezusa, błogosławiony owoc żywota Twojego, po tym wygnaniu nam okaż. O łaskawa, o litościwa, o słodka Panno Maryjo!

(Hail Holy Queen, Mother of Mercy, our Life, our Sweetness, and our hope. To thee we cry, poor banished children of Eve. To thee we send up our sighs, mourning and weeping in this vale of tears. Turn then most gracious advocate, Thine eyes of mercy toward us, and after this, our exile, show unto us, the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus. O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary. Pray for us O Holy Mother of God, That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ. Amen.)

Módlmy się! O Boże, którego jedyny Syn przez życie, śmierć, i zmartwychwstanie zdobył dla nas nagrodę życia wiecznego, spraw, Ciebie prosimy, aby rozmyślanie tajemnic rózańca Świętego Najświętszej Maryi Panny pozwoliłoby nam je naśladować i tak dostąpić spełnienia ich obietnic, przez Chrystusa Pana Naszego. Amen.

(Let us pray. O God, whose only begotten Son, by His life, death, and resurrection, has purchased for us the rewards of eternal life, grant, we beseech Thee, that meditating upon these mysteries of the Most Holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary, we may imitate what they contain and obtain what they promise, through the same Christ Our Lord. Amen.)

Come back to listen to all these Polish prayers as downloadable MP3 files later this week!

Swieradow Zdroj

Świeradów-Zdrój / flinsberg

Three early picture postcards of Świeradów-Zdrój / Bad Flinsberg, Lower Silesia. Posted in 1899, 1906 and 1935.

Images of Świeradów-Zdrój in Lower Silesia Through Time

Świeradów-Zdrój Bad Flinsberg

The view from a cafe restaurant looking down on Świeradów-Zdrój (Bad Flinsberg), c.1940.

Here in Lubuskie we only had a small amount of snow over the Christmas and New Year period but despite this my thoughts have turned to skiing and my favourite ski resort and spa town, Swieradow Zdroj. As a result have unearthed a selection of old images of this most excellent of spots in the Sudetan Mountains of south-west Poland.

Świeradów-Zdrój  snow

A late 1960s photograph of the spa buildings in snow covered Świeradów-Zdrój, Lower Silesia, Poland.

Some things about Świeradów-Zdrój that may be of interest:
I – The first recorded mention of the medicinal waters to be found in Świeradow dates back to 1572.
II – Prior to 1945 Swieradow-Zdroj was called Flinsberg / Bad Flinsberg and part of Germany.

A photograph of Ulica Boleslawa Bieruta in Swieradow-Zdroj, Poland, c.1974.

A photograph of Ulica Boleslawa Bieruta in Swieradow-Zdroj, Dolnośląskie, Poland, c.1974.

III – Świeradów-Zdrój is located in the county of Lubań in the western Sudetan mountains, not far from the city of Jelenia Gora.

Swieradow Zdroj spa

The spa and sanatorium in Swieradow Zdroj, Lower Silesia, Poland, c.1979.

IV – Approximately 4,400 people live in Świeradów-Zdrój.

Swieradow-zdroj polen

A postcard sent to us by a friend who visited Swieradow-Zdroj for a week of spa treatment in the early 2000s.

V – Swieradow-Zdroj is home to a small but well-formed chess museum.
VI – Due to the year-round influx of large numbers of German tourists using the spa facilities, walking, and skiing, Świeradów-Zdrój has a lots of signposts and notices in both Polish and German – and a few in English!

Related content on Polish Poland:
- Skiing in Poland.
- Old images of the nearby town of Lubań.

A Film of Poland in 1936

Here is a rather good film made by an English film-maker on a visit to Poland in 1936.

The film includes some super footage of pre-war Poland, including a cable railway in the Tatra Mountains, life in the Polish countryside; sheep farming; the Vistula River; film of Warsaw including images of the city’s Jewish population, and the construction of the port of Gdynia.

Simply click on the arrow in the middle of the screen to watch right here and now.

Here are a few stills from what is a wonderful film:

poland 1936

poland 1936 movie

poland 1936 film

Merry Christmas / Wesołych Świąt

wesolych swiat polish

An old Polish ‘Wesolych Swiat’ Christmas card. Posted to an address in Koło, near Lodz, in 1919.

How to say Happy Christmas or Merry Christmas in Polish

Wesołych Świąt Merry Christmas

A vintage Polish Christmas card. Text reads ‘Wesołych Świąt’. Posted from Poznan, Poland, in 1920.

Are you perhaps wondering how to wish someone a Merry Christmas in Polish?

Well, you’ve come to the right place! Here’s how:

Merry Christmas / Happy Christmas = Wesołych Świąt

An English speaker might pronounce the phrase something like this:
‘vess-oh wikh shvee-ont’.

Listen to me (a female native speaker of Polish) speaking the phrase by clicking here.

happy christmas

A traditional Polish Christmas Card. This card was mailed to my Grandmother in the late 1960s.

Related content on Polish Poland: Polish Christmas; Polish Christmas Cards.

Catholic Wayside Shrines

roman catholic shrine poland

There are Catholic Wayside (Roadside) Shrines throughout Poland Indeed in pretty much every hamlet, village, town or city has at least one shrine. Here are three photographs we took back in the summer of one shrine that we drive by most days. This particular wayside shrine is in the column-style and located about 20 metres from a country road in the province of Lubuskie in the far west of Poland; not far from the German border; and around an hour’s drive from Berlin.

catholic roadside shrine polish

This shrine is often used as a small chapel where a handful of villagers will spend time praying. Often bringing along chairs to sit on. Candles are also placed and lit here around religious holidays or to remember people who have passed. As can be seen in the photographs the central figure here is Jesus Christ. Others in the are known as ‘Marian’ shrines and feature figures of the Virgin Mary.

catholic wayside shrines poland

This type of more established wayside shrine shouldn’t be confused with the many thousands of more personal and probably more temporary crosses and small shrines placed beside the roads of Poland to mark where a relative or friend died, often as the result of a road traffic accident. On my daily commute to work I drive past three of these large wayside shrines maintained by local communities, whereas I pass five markers, mostly in the shape of crosses, placed beside the road by family’s who have lost a loved one.