Monday, July 21, 2014

The Polish Mother

Mothers in  Poland
© by Jagoda Urban-Klaehn, May 8, 2004 (article #191)

Mother's Day (Dzien Matki) in Poland is celebrated on the 26th of May every year. My mother never liked this day because she remembered it first from the time of the war. Germans occupants enforced its celebration in Silesia - as a Muttertag, where my mother grew up. But the first celebration of Mother's Day in Poland took place in 1923 in Krakow, but this feast was not really very popular until the WW II and the years short after the war.

Mother's Day is marked with the special celebrations in schools and kindergardens. Younger children prepare so called "laurki" for their mothers. ( laurka - is a sheet of paper decorated with flowers on which children write their wishes to their mothers). Schools often carry special ceremonies or classes to commemorate Mother's Day.

What was a life of a typical Polish mother during communism? Not easy. Polish mothers had plenty of responsibilities. Majority of women worked professionally - outside of the house. Partly due to the communistic idea that everybody has to work for the well being of the country, partly due to a fact that their husbands salary is not sufficient to secure a well being of the family. Working part-time was never very popular in Poland, so this was not an option.

Besides working outside of the home women took care of the household. They had to buy and prepare food and take care of the children. Polish family is not especially patriarchal and macho type is not that popular therefore some men, husbands and fathers do bear some responsibilities with the family and the household, but still women are usually in charge.

Eating out was not that popular in Poland since it is quite expensive and it is limited usually to the special occasion. Besides, the variety of restaurants was very limited, almost no any ethnic food was offered (except Polish food of course). Preparing food was also more troublesome than in the USA where almost ready dish can be bought in any grocery. Especially difficult was time of the economical crisis in late seventies and eighties when there was a constant deficit of food and other products on the market and food even became rationed. In that time women not only had to work and take care of the household but they have to think about how to get food to the table!

Presently Polish mothers have easier life in some aspects - abundant food is available everywhere in the stores. It is in part due to a fact that women as mothers are entitled to some social benefits because of their motherhood.

That article provides some insights as to what/who the Polish Mother is. Is she different from American mothers. Yes. Speaking as a sociologist conducting 12 years of participation / observation, I can say that they are better mothers in terms of understanding motherhood and the role it has for Polish people living in Poland. Their role as mother is taken very seriously. Why? Because, mothers impart the social reality to their infants/children. In order for Poland to be Poland, for Poles to be Polish, mother has an expected role; to impart/implant identity. Mother's in Poland consider this a life long job - motherhood.  They are constantly reminding their children who they are and are not. This is very important. How do they do it??? With words??? No, with tradition, food, words, and deep love guided by faith that her job was crucial and thus came an obvious sense of duty as a kind of national duty to wider society = all of Poland.
I learned more about being a mother in Poland than I did here in the US from my own mother. I do not dishonor my mother. I realize that she did not understand motherhood and the important role it is and the information needed to be passed (her duty) on in order for social reality to be imparted with a sense of comfort and security and identity. My mother like many other mothers in America (an immigrant country) was mixed ethnic background and she married into another family of mixed ethnic background. Her being mixed up caused her children to be mixed up and their children. What is negative about that? The art of mothering a strong sense of identity/self confidence/ belonging was lost due to conflicting information - each culture blurred through intermarriage... and richness of information was lost.  For those considering marriage, I advise as the Bible suggests Acts 17... God appointed the nations/ people in their place and they should stay there in order that they reach out to Him ...Marry someone on the same page that you are on other words- if you decide to marry then marry your own kind, you can still be an American.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Poland, a Place of Tradition and Pierogi

Poland is now being caught up in the global agenda. However, there are many Poles who value Poland as a place of tradition. It is a country where most people are Christian and most people eat pierogi at Christmas and Easter and even everyday.  Not that other foods do not exist. Pizza is very popular but then Poles are sometimes referred to as the Italians of the North. Pizza, hamburgers and Sushi can be bought but when it comes to holidays in Poland, pierogi are still considered a tradition. There is a quietness in tradition. How? It is in knowing something won't change. This knowing gives a person a sense of security, a sense of belonging to a place, to other people in that place. It is a knowing of who you are and are not. It is defining your being this knowing. In that alone, one is quieted, at rest.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Wow! Bieg Rzeznik... makes you wonder if Poles are Stoics

Are Polish people Stoics? My observation is yes. Considering my ex who organizes one of the most grueling races of all time "Bieg Rzeznik", 50 miles race for best time in the Bieszczady Mountains. If interested, you can check out the race online.
Back to the question. First, what does it mean to be a Stoic. Maybe we need to look at Epicureans to better set up for Stoicism. Epicureans aim at being happy "don't worry be happy", que sera sera (sorry on the spelling) you know "what will be will be". You only live once!
 The Stoic is someone who sees/thinks the divine is in all things and because of that enormous complexity, the creator, what is divine, is unknowable. All we can do in this world is dig in and make it to the other side but even that is not for sure. So why bother. The Stoic is sure about a divine spirit in all things, therefore, it is ones duty/religion to do something... the will to do something. Even Thorstein Veblen saw that in his observations.  No matter what the challenge, just do it, you have to, the divine spark in you should not be wasted! Niki must think so, it got them to a market position that may never be toppled.
Is that a good thing? Paul spoke in Athens to people of these two schools of thought. He appealed to them both. I myself am a bit of a Stoic. God is there, no doubt and his will should be mine. Sometimes I think that I will never know what that is unless I go the distance.  Guess my Polish roots go deep like the runners of Rzeznik.