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A fiery red squirrel,  photo: Andrzej Grygiel / PAP

You’ve heard of international superstitions like ‘don’t walk under a ladder’, but how about some exclusive to Poland? The thirteen super-Polish beliefs presented here include why you shouldn’t count pierogi while they’re still cooking, what you need to say to dwarves when you can’t find something, and why you have to watch out for the number seven...

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Vegetables on the table, photo: Mariusz Grzelak/Reporter

Even though Polish cuisine has a reputation of being quite meat and potato-heavy, we Poles actually invented a whole bunch of interesting ways of eating vegetables. No meal is complete without them.

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Polish affinity to herbs has a long history, but is also very much in tune with the modern ideas of healthy natural living. How does one lead a healthy, herbal life – the Polish way?

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A wedding at the castle in Krasiczyn. Pictured: Iza & Gabryś, the happy couple, photo: Dorota Kaszuba & Michal Warda WhiteSmoke Studio

The traditional Polish wedding is no longer what it used to be. For centuries, a wedding in Poland was a two or three-day affair that included many unique traditions. But globalisation and social media have begun to change the way many Polish couples plan this important day of their lives…

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Ash Wednesday, photo: Piotr Guzik / Forum

Popielec, or Ash Wednesday, is the day when ashes are sprinkled upon the heads of worshippers in the churches of Poland.

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Procession of the Three Kings, photo: Leszek Kotarba / East News

The tradition of writing these letters has its origin in the 18th century. During the communist regime, many Poles continued this tradition as a demonstration of their own beliefs.

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Птичье молоко. Фото: Марчин Клебан / AG

Crispy Prince Polo, chewy caramels…what other sweets gained popularity in Poland under communism and are still bought today? Here is our subjective and probably incomplete guide to iconic Polish candies. We encourage you to complete the list in the comments below.

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Doughnuts (Pączki), photo: Tomasz Paczos / Forum

Every February, Poland goes nuts for doughnuts. Fat Thursday, the last Thursday prior to Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent, is one of the most important holidays, and it mainly revolves around eating as many doughnuts as possible.

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Rose jam from Stara Wieś, photo: Arco Images/Diez O./Forum

From rose jam to rooster-shaped bread, Polish regional foods are appetising and visually stunning.

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Borsht, or barszcz in Polish, is an umbrella term for several soups based on sour broth. It has been a part of Slavic culture since time immemorial, and it is just as popular as it was fourteen centuries ago.

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Still from Christmas Eve by Jerzy Stefan Stawiński and Helena Amirradżibi. Photo: Tadeusz Biernacki / The National Film Archives / www.fototeka.fn.org.pl

Like in most Central European countries, Christmas in Poland is a quaint and much-beloved affair. However, while Germanic traditions, like decorating trees, have spread so far as to be unsurprising, Polish customs remain delightfully distinctive.

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The dead in special dress called Śmiertelnica. Still from The Issa Valley by Tadeusz Konwicki. Photo: "Zebra" Film Studio / The National Film Archive / www.fototeka.fn.org.pl

From paid mourners to extended carousals, splendiferous ceremonies and private catafalques; from pagan beliefs, through Jewish symbolism to Catholic rites: get to know Polish funeral customs.

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Festival in Poland, photo: Grażyna Myślińska / Forum

We all know that the French are superb at making wine, the Brits are great sailors and that nobody can play football quite as spectacularly as the Brazilians (save for one Argentinian who plays in a league of his own). But what is it that makes Poles Polish?

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It can be a diplomatic disaster not to accept Polish grandmas' advice on treatment. Photo: Value / EastNews

Garlic for the flu, vinegar for bruises, cabbage for ulceration… Poland’s home remedies passed down from generation to generation make up an entire universe of alternative medicine. Because some of these methods may seem odd, let’s discuss them one by one so that you know which suggestions to accept or reject if you happen to feel bad in Poland.

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Zaduszki candle, photo: Forum Agency

One of the most important family holidays in Poland, Zaduszki sees people all over the country gather to visit the graves of their loved ones. All throughout Poland graveyards glow with lights.

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Kadr z filmu "Nie ma róży bez ognia", reż. Stanisław Bareja, 1974. Na zdjęciu: Jacek Federowicz i Chwalibóg Maria, fot. fot. Studio Filmowe Kadr / Filmoteka Narodowa / www.fototeka.fn.org.pl

The culinary tastes of the generations born in the PPR (the Polish People’s Republic) were shaped mostly by canteen food and home cooking, which was based on inventiveness forced by the economic situation. Traditional cookery was replaced by nutritional knowledge and taste by caloric content. Food was treated as mere fuel for the working class and peasantry

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Oscypek,  source: trzyznakismaku.pl

Oscypek is a decorative traditional spindle shaped smoked sheep's cheese from the Podhale region. The best way to savour it is sliced or fried over a hearth with a dash of cranberry marmalade.

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Gołąbki, image: Tasty Colours

It’s not clear whether Poland owes its gołąbki to Turkish, Armenian or Jewish influences. They were apparently first served in the Eastern borderlands. A 19th century cook books speak of “stuffed cabbage”.

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Pierogi with fruit, photo:  Mari Hem/Reporter

During decades of communist regime, Poles usually could only "enjoy" the simple rural versions but nowadays extravagant stuffing and fancy toppings often turn this simple dish into a gourmet delicacy.

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牛肝菌(Boletus badius),FoKa / Forum摄影

Poland has a long tradition of mushroom picking, and accordingly forest mushrooms are essential ingredients of the Polish culinary tradition. The aroma of forest mushrooms, in particular dried ones, is one of the trademarks of the Polish national culinary heritage.

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