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At the Christmas Eve table, photo: Michał Jankowski / Forum

If you ever end up spending Christmas in Poland, we have some good news and some bad news. The good news is that it will be the warmest, most unforgettable Christmas experience. The bad news is that some of the traditions might be too surprising to face unprepared, so better read Culture.pl’s guide to avoid unnecessary stress and possible faux pas.

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In Poland, children are taught not to jaywalk early on. Photo Jerzy Dudek / Forum

So, you've just landed in Poland. You've read your share of facts about Polish history, learned a few phrases, and you already know how to survive a Polish business meeting and a Polish dinner party.

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The band Boys at the second edition of the Polish Dance Music Festival in Ostróda, 1997, photo: Darek Majewski

Disco polo is like McDonald’s. No one wants to be seen enjoying it, yet everybody does. 50% disco and 50% folk music, the tacky but catchy genre is essential at weddings and in provincial bars.

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Meet the Kowalskis, Nowaks, Mickiewiczs and Lewandowskis – and find out out how these names came to be the most popular, symbolical, typical and strangest Polish surnames.

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13 of the most beautiful natural wonders in Poland interactive map

Most people don’t need convincing that spending time among nature can be beneficial. If you’re doubtful, many studies show that immersing yourself in nature can reduce stress, increase pleasant feelings and even boost creativity. Should you want to go into the wild in Poland, Culture.pl guarantees are these places are exceptionally picturesque.

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What's in a Polish name? Why did the Slavic names of yore almost die out? And what are Polish names like nowadays?

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Our sea may be cold and remote, but outside Poland’s biggest cities, stunning rocks and amazing mountain-top views are awaiting your arrival.

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The Polish alphabet has 32 letters, nine of which are unique. Considering that some of the letters form digraphs and even one trigraph, this adds up to a total of 17 signs, which you‘ll unfortunately have to learn by heart. On the other hand, once you know them all, you’ll be able to pronounce any Polish word.

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Knedle, photo: Agata Jakubowska

Someone says Poland – you think: pierogi. True, a majority of foreigners associate them with Polish cuisine. But Poland is the land of tens – if not hundreds – of other dumplings, too.

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Still from animation based on George the Hedgehog comics, photo: press release

While the Polish comics industry may not be as internationally recognised as that of the US or the Francophone countries, it certainly has its own share of writers and artists creating world-class comics.

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Cricoteka headquarters in Kraków, photo: Marek Kowalski

The accounts of Polish architecture are just as tumultuous and complex as the political fate of this part of Europe. Poland’s borders moved on multiple occasions, the partitions and loss of independence, wartime destruction, and finally, European funds now stimulating the construction market – all of these factors contribute to the image of Polish architecture.

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"Clapp" armchair, project: Piotr Kuchciński, producer: NotiMust, Have 2014, photo: Łódź Design Festival 2014

In the last couple of years Poland's fame has gone beyond its beautiful women and hearty meals served with a shot of vodka. Slowly but surely, Poland is starting to be recognised for its design: both contemporary and classical.

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Kraków, fotoğraf: Grzegorz Kozakiewicz / Forum

Polish cuisine is the result a treasured lore of ancestral ingredients, and has recently bloomed from virtual obscurity to one of the rising stars of the European scene. Its great advantage over long-time favorites like French or Italian fare is its range of unexpected tastes: the sharp pungency of mustard plants, the sparkle of fermentation, and umami galore.

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Still from Jan Lenica's "Labyrinth", photo: Studio Miniatur Filmowych

Animators are many things. They're poets of imagery and comedians, puppet and stop motion masters, illustrators and experts of 3D technology. Poland boasts an impressive array of well-respected and accomplished animators. Here is a (short) guide to Polish animation.

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Rzeszów 22.07.2011 r. XVth World Festival of Folk Ensembles. Photo: Waldek Sosnowski / Forum

An authentic Polish folk dance is one of the most joyful and arresting spectacles a tourist can witness in Poland. These dances are performed all over Poland, but the first step in fully appreciating the experience is to learn more about these wonderfully preserved local traditions

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Eksperymentalne Studio Polskiego Radia, fot. Muzeum Sztuki w Łodzi

The following guide is a very dense yet rough overview of Polish electronic music. It was not written as an article to be read in one sitting, but more as a general time-line of Polish electronic music, with way-points to show the reader where to start and how to take ones' first steps before diving deep into a specific period or genre.

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Agnieszka Holland, Andrzej Wajda, Wojciech Pszoniak, Janusz Morgenstern, Krystyna Zachwatowicz after the premiere of Korczak, Cannes Film Festival, 1990
. photo: Jerzy Kośnik / Forum

Of all the areas of Polish culture in which a foreigner requires guidance, cinema first comes to mind. Many are acquainted with its international stars, but few know the background story and the gems that haven't yet made it global. To brush up on your knowledge - or to tackle your complete ignorance - simply select your profile, click and enjoy!

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Polish non-fiction writing, made famous by Kapuściński, among others, is often considered a national speciality, along with pickled cucumbers and kiełbasa. But what is so special about this literary dish? Where does it come from and how does one actually eat it?

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Krzysztof 'Komeda' Trzciński with his wife Zofia, Zakopane, 1958, photo: Wojciech Plewiński / Forum

The prolific history of Polish Jazz may seem inaccessible for foreigners: so many characters, so many musicians and various streams of jazz music. If you want to get started on Polish jazz and discover the story of Komeda, Stańko or Seifert, try out Culture.pl’s Foreigners Guide to Polish Jazz.

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With its complex history and fascinating present, Poland has proven a fruitful ground for theatre makers. In fact, some of the world’s most influential and revolutionary artists of the Occidental stage came from Poland. Let us introduce you to milestone figures of (Polish) 20th century theatre

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