Julie Tobey


As in any other country literature is influenced by the rise and fall of different empires so does of Poland. Polish literary history is carved by the famous and not so known periodic uprising, the rise of various kingdoms, and the influences of Polish writers and budding thinkers. These periods can be dissected as Middle Ages, Renaissance, Baroque, Enlightenment, Romanticism, Positivism, Young Poland, Interbellum, and world war II. These periods contributed to the majority of Polish literature with a rich heritage.

Middle Ages

Middle Ages

After the country’s Christianization in 966, the oral literature of the pagans and the Slavic songs were lost to history. The writers like Gallus Anonymus a foreign monk who accompanied King Boleslaw III Wrymouth described Poland in his work Cronicae et Gesta ducum sive principum Polonorum(Deeds of the Princes of the Poles). Some of the most notable medieval Polish works in Latin and old polish are Holy Cross Sermons, Bible of Queen Zofia, and the Chronicle of Janko of Czarnkow and Pulawy Psalter. These were influenced mainly by sacred literature which was in Latin. Some of them are Bogurodzica (Mother of God) and Master Polikarps’s conversation with death.


Next was the Renaissance period when the polish language found its equal footing with Latin under the Jagiellonian rule. Many foreign writers came and settled in Poland, including Kallimach and Conrad Celtis. One of the Polish writers of this time who was laurelled by the Pope was Klemens Janicki. A prayer book by Biernat of Lublin called Raj duszny was the first book to be printed entirely in the Polish language.

Later was the period of the Polish Baroque between 1620 and 1764. This era saw a significant increase in Jesuit high schools teaching Latin classics as the preparation part of their political carrier which in turn saw a rise in the number of well-versed poets and versifiers on humanistic grounds. Then came the period of Enlightenment during the 1730s -40s which witnessed the reign of Poland’s last king, Stanislaw August Poniatowski. This era ended around 1822 and was replaced by Polish Romanticism followed by Positivism. The Enlightenment poets include Ignacy Krasicki, Poland’s La Fontaine, and Jan Potocki(1761-1815) who was a Polish nobleman, linguist, and adventurer well known for his travel memoirs. Polish Romanticism was a movement of independence against foreign occupation and expressed the traditional polish way of life. This period of art and literature featured emotionalism and imagination, folklore, and country life-giving high importance to individuality and self-expression. Some of the most famous writers of this era are Seweryn Goszczynski, Maurycy Mochnacki, and Adam Mickiewicz.


After the failed uprising of January 1863 against the Russian occupation, the Polish Positivism flourished which questioned organic work including questions about equal rights for all members of the society. Then came the era of Young Poland which lasted from 1890 to 1918 and saw a surge in visual arts, literature, and music. Authors of this era include Kaeimierz Przwerwa- Tetmajer, Stanisław Przybyszewski and Jan Kasprowicz. The works of this era included topics from a sense of personal mission of a pole to criticism of Polish society and Polish revolutionary history by Stanisław Wyspiański. Henryk Sienkiewicz received the Nobel Prize in literature for his new sense of rising hope for his patriotic trilogy. Further WW II saw all artistic life dramatically compromised. Many writers were deported to concentration camps and many joined the Polish underground resistance movement. Secret meetings were held in cities like Warsaw, Krakow, and Lwow.

Yet after so many depreciative incidences in the literary history of, Poland the country found its way even then and brought forth and continues to bring worthy literary laureates.

Poland’s folklore identity has been badly eroded after World War II as a result of fast and rapid industrialization, and a mistrust of countryside orthodoxy under communist control. Local attire, accents and modes of expression, peasant arts & crafts, religious and community celebrations, have all been engulfed by mainstream culture from the metropolis and the press. The Roman Catholic Church has attempted to counteract by preserving religious components of customs and beliefs, particularly in massive yearly pilgrims to shrines like as Czstochowa, Kalwaria Zebrzydowska (a UNESCO World Heritage site), Piekary lskie and Lanckorona.

Musical Fests

Orchestral events are also famous, especially those honouring Romantic musician and writer Frédéric Chopin (Fryderyk Franciszek Szopen), albeit Beethoven’s work is honoured in Kraków in the springtime and Mozart’s in Warsaw in the summertime. Homecooked meals such as duck soup (czarnina), red beet soup (barszcz), ravioli, steamed shrimp and eel, meatballs and sauerkraut, and pig and poultry meals, the other commonly accompanied with a balsamic glaze, are all component of ancient Polish gastronomy.

Several Polish meals incorporate gardening and woodland items, including such radish, raisins, cauliflowers, gooseberries, and mushrooms, such as bigos, that uses sauerkraut and newly gathered mushrooms, and grzybowa, a classic stew. Pczki are deep-fried berry cakes traditionally eaten on Christian high holidays.

The flag of Poland

A white horizontal stripe is placed above a red horizontal line in Poland’s country’s flag, which was approved in 1919. On a red backdrop, the Polish shield of arms depicts a white eagle. “Poland Has Not Yet Perished,” as the patriotic song goes. Lent, Easter, the Festival of the Assumption, Corpus Christi, and All Saints’ Day are Christian festivals, while Constitution Day on May 3 and Freedom Day on November 11.  Topienie Marzanny, which is on March 23, is a traditional event in which kids toss dolls representing wintertime into freshly river valleys.

The cultural differences between elite and the rural

Polish society is extremely structured, and social statuses are generally accepted. Through antiquity, there’s been a lengthy difference in culture between both the rural dwellers and metropolitan elites. The Polish rural, on the other hand, has transformed dramatically, and the elite is in the midst of becoming middle-class.


range of cultures

Poland is a Slavic nation in Central and Eastern Europe. Although since fall of the Soviet-controlled communist rule, the nation’s values has transformed dramatically. In the last 30 years, the post-communist period has brought a new social structure, mentality, and hope. Despite that, some individuals are still adjusting to societal changes. A wide range of cultures has thrived, and some members of the younger crowd have come to embrace more liberal beliefs.

The religious landscape, cultural structures, and basic beliefs of the nation all reflect tradition and rigidity. Poles’ sensitivity for the history and their desire to glamorise concepts persist. Nevertheless, this is balanced by a keen sense of reality and a pragmatic outlook.

The cinema in Poland has a very long history and a very rich one too. Diving into the world of Poland’s Cinema will give you immense joy and will bring you closer to understanding the culture of Poland. Many gems of writers, directors, and actors have emerged from Polish Cinema. And in this article, we are going to dig a little deeper into Poland’s culture through the lens of cinema.

Poland’s cinema can be bifurcated into two periods which are the Pre-World War Two and Post-World War Two. The cinema post world war 2 was hugely affected by the Nazis not giving full creative access to the filmmakers and in turn banning most of the cinemas. Poland’s history of cinema is as long as the history of cinematography itself. Debatably Kazimierz Proszynski who had filmed various short films and documentaries in Warsaw has patented his pleograph film camera before Lumiere Brothers. During the world war, I especially the cinema of Poland crossed vast borders and often was rebranded with German-language intertitles and was screened in Berlin. But things drastically changed after World war two when Nazism was rampant in Poland, it saw the banning of most of the creative works that showed Germans with their Nazi cruelty. Anything anti-communist was put under the rugs. So much so that the output of films being produced was lowered to only thirteen features being released between 1947 and 1952. But as Polish filmmakers had access to all Polish institutions and an entry to almost every aspect of polish life brought forth the best and most authentic polish cinema from all strata of their lives. Even though there were high costs to film production leading to films being shot at much lower shooting ratios.

polish cinema

The success of polish cinema can be measured by this when the first film was produced post world war two was seen by 10.8 million people out of the total Polish population of 23.8 million. T, wMany legendary filmmakers,kers madeuntilmade untilaw a change from communism to capitalism. One such filmmaker was Wanda Jakubowska who directed The Last Stage in 1948 and Aleksander Ford who directed Border Street in 1949. Later through the mid-1950s after the end of Stalinism in Poland, the country saw film production happening into film groups. A film group consisting of Scriptwriters, film directors, and production managers came together under one senior and experienced film director to exercise their artistic expression of Cinema.

Polish Cinema invested a lot in educating the audience and building them for the kind of variety of cinema that was produced. This was done by making tickets cheap and discounts were f=given to students and old people. At one point in the 1970s in Lodz, there was 36 cinema showing films from all over the world with polish subtitles. Some of the most notable films are The Pianist, Squint Your Eyes, The wedding, The Collector, Savior Square, Rose,33 Scenes from life, Essential Killing, and the most recent Cold war of 2019.

The country of Poland has a rich history of Music from the middle ages till today. The musicians from Poland have given the world a diverse genre of Music ranging from mazurka, polonaise, krakowiak, Kujawiak, Polska partner dance music, and Oberbeck also some of the sung poetries. Poland has world renowned pianists like Ignacy Jan Paderewski, Karl Tausig, Krystian Zimerman and, many more.

This music of Poland exhibits the influence from huge variety of world music styles and bands like TLove,Big Cyc, Dżem, Status Qwo, Budka Suflera, Czerwone Gitary, Maanam (Kora) among many others. There is seen some contemporary singer-spngwriters and pop icons like Doda, Edyta Bartosiewicz, Margaret, Maria Peszek, as well as jazz musicians like Włodek Pawlik, Tomasz Stańko, Leszek Możdżer, Adam Makowicz. There are also bands like Behemoth, Decapitated and Vader.

The medieval era can be traced as far back as the 13th century from the manuscripts found in Stary Sacz retaining polyphonic compositions from the Notre Dame School. Another such piece, such as Bogurodzica, can also be dated back to this period. Later the first-ever notable composer of the 15th century came to be the Mikolaj z Radomir. Then during the 16th century, the two musical ensembles from Krakow made an innovation to Polish Music. The composers fro this time are Mikołaj Zieleński, Gomółka, Marcin Leopolita among others. Later during the 17th-century composers focused on baroque, religious Music, and instruments, and this tradition continued in the 18th century. With this, the tradition of operatic production started in Warsaw in 1628 beginning from the first Italian performance outside of Italy held at Galatea.

Later during the end of the 18th-century classical music evolved into national forms like the Polonaise and Mazurka. The piano pieces by Juliusz Zarębski, Józef Elsner, Frédéric Chopin and Michał Kleofas Ogiński remain poplular till date. Chopin composed many works like waltzes, nocturnes, mazurka, and concertos with traditional polish elements in his pieces. Then came the duration of the wars namely WW I and WW II and during this time the Association of Young Polish Musicians including luminaries like Tadeusz Szeligowski, Michał Spisak, Grażyna Bacewicz, Zygmunt Mycielski. Later, when communism was rampant in the country, many composers like Roman Palester and Andrzej panufnik remained in exile by fleeing the country.

Music flourished

The death of Stalin, led by the political crisis of 1956, was characterized by the use of sonorism and dodecaphonism. During this period, Music flourished unlike in many other parts of Europe, where it was discouraged by their dictators as it was said to impose an ideological threat to their reign. Poland wasn’t like this and gave much freedom to their musicians, and composers, which led to great Music being composed during this period. The end of WW II led to the Polish revival movement, and it paved the way for folk traditions to be cultivated during this time. The most famous of these highly organized and promoted events were Slask and Mazowse, both of these still performed to date. Other music genres like contemporary, heavy metal, death metal, thrash metal, and gothic metal are some of those that emerged from Poland. Thus Poland has seen a massive surge in Music and arts as the times evolved, and with it evolved Poland’s diverse and rich Music too.

Polish meals consist of kiełbasa, pierogi (full of meat, potatoes, cabbage, cheese, or holiday fruits), pyzy (meat-filled bread balls), kopytka, gołąbki (beef and rice stuffed cabbage), śledzie (herring), bigos, schabowy, oscypek and much more. Usually, meals such as soups flaki, rosół, zupa ogórkowa, zupa grzybowa (mushroom soup), żurek, and zupa Pomodoro (tomato soup) happen readily in big vessels meant for groups, usually necessitating the employment of devices such as oars in their planning. Traditionally, hospitality is vital.

Polish meals

The essential drink is vodka. The first known written mention of beverage was in 1405 in Akta Grodzkie, the court papers through the Palatinate of Sandomierz in Poland. The word vodka (wódka) referred to chemical compounds such for example, drugs, and cosmetic makeup products’ cleansers, even though the popular drink was called gorzałka (through the Old Polish gorzeć meaning to burn off), which can be additionally the foundation of Ukrainian horilka at the time. The word vodka printed in Cyrillic appeared first in 1533, about a glass or two that is medicinal from Poland to Russia by the merchants of Kievan Rus’.

In the Middle Ages, whilst the urban centers of Poland grew larger in size and grocery stores were created. The exchange is certainly culinary progressed & people got acquainted with new dishes and dishes. Some areas became well known for the sort of sausage they made, and several sausages these days, however, carry those names which are original. The peasants recognized the view that it is honorable for all of them to keep nourished for longer amounts of time.

By a 2009 Ernst & Young report, Poland is Europe’s third lathird-largest producer: Germany with 103 million hectolitres, the UK with 49.5 million hl, and Poland with 36.9 million hl. After growth, this is certainly consecutive to your home marketplace, the Polish Union of the Brewing business companies (Związek Pracodawców Przemysłu Piwowarskiego), which presents around 90% of this Polish alcohol market, revealed throughout the annual brewing business meeting that consumption of alcohol in 2008 rose to 94 liters per capita or 35,624 million hectolitres sold on the domestic market. Statistically, a customer that is polish some 92 liters of alcohol a year puts it a third behind Germany. Consuming alcohol as a drink is fundamental typical through the Middle years. Wine has recently become more popular. A glass of honey wine was an old-fashioned beverage dating back to and also to the Middle years, in fact, Polish mead.

non-alcoholic drinks

Soft drinks include “napoje gazowane” (sodas), “napoje bezalkoholowe” (non-alcoholic drinks) like water, beverage, juice, coffee or kompot. Kompot is a drink that is non-alcoholic of boiled fruit, optionally with sugar and herbs (clove or cinnamon), served hot or cold. It may be manufactured from one kind of good fresh fruit or even a blend, including oranges, peaches, pears, strawberries, or cherries being bad. Also, Susz is a kind of kompot made with dried fruits, mostly oranges, apricots, and figs. Usually served on Christmas Eve.

Among holiday meals, there exists a Christmas. This is certainly old-fashioned Eve labeled as Wigilia. Another event is special Fat Thursday (“Tłusty Czwartek”), a Catholic feast celebrated from the final Thursday before the Lent. Usually, this is a day when people eat considerable amounts of candies and cakes, being afterward forbidden until Easter time.

The history of art in Poland goes way back but due to many invasions and Polish freedom struggle, a huge chunk is lost to history. But polish art has found its way to the hearts of many patriotic and non-patriotic audiences of the 19th, and 20th centuries. The art has managed to maintain its historical evidential touch with a modern view of trends and that becomes its unique character. It comprises many art forms like painting, structures, and handicrafts.


Jan Matejko most famously known as the national painter of Poland formed the Krakow school of history painting in Poland. He was a painter with only one-fourth of a Polish heritage but was a devout patriot and brought forth his patriotism through his exceptional art of painting. He developed portraits of monumental historical events and customs that took place all through polish history. And this is one of the many reasons why he is the national painter of Poland. He was born on the 24th of June 1838 and died at just 55 yrs of age in 1893. His period saw his remarkable art which is still found as a national heritage and is in the educational books of Poland’s history. His works include oil paintings such as Rejtan, The union,the astronomer Copernicus and the battle of Grunwald all of them depicting some of the political, historical, and scientific events of Poland. He also painted some of the polish monarchs in book form and murals in st. marys Basilica, Krakow.

Later during this period, Poland saw the works of Stanisław Witkiewicz who was an ardent supporter of Realism in Polish art. Also, the Mloda Polska popularly known as the Young Poland movement was the birth of modern polish art. It led to big formal experimentation led by Józef Mehoffer,Stanisław Wyspiański and Jacek Malczewski forming a group of Polish Impressionists.

During the 20th the artist represented Avant-Garde and represented various strata and schools of life. The art of Władysław Strzemiński and Henryk Stażewski was built on Constructivism while the art of Tadeusz Makowski was built on cubism. Cubism was inherently a form of art that projected a structure made from cubes but as it was a cube and in three dimensions, it Was open to numerous interpretations and hence was a form of abstract art. This century also saw a great number of contemporary artists. Some of them being Leon Tarasewicz, Mirosław Bałka, Katarzyna Kozyra Wilhelm Sasnal,etc.

Though after the second world war the remnants of the war, like Andrzej Wajda initiated the war’s victims of the Warsaw Uprising,Nazi Holocaust, and Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. Some of the important post war painters include Grupa Krakowska (Tadeusz Kantor, Jerzy Duda-Gracz, Jan Szancenbach, Jerzy Duda-Gracz and others.

At present day many galleries and museums of art are being built which is claiming not only national but international acclaim too. Some of the independent galleries are in War.

Poland is known globally for its rich cultural heritage and a strong backbone of rich literature and art. Many of the theatre pieces or rather the forms of theatre in Poland are based on the country’s vast artistic and literary history. Though the spoken word is not so much incorporated in the theatre, there are various other forms like mime, including puppets, figures, shadows, and visual theatre though it has state censorship. Most of the theatre in Poland is dramatic genre-oriented due to the country’s profound historic background. Also, there is no division between theatre-goers and moviegoers as there is no division as such between theatre directors and film directors. Most theatre directors are movie directors too and the same goes with the performing actors and actresses. An example for these would be directors like Daniel Olbrychski, Jerzy Radziwiłowicz, Krystyna Janda, Wojciech Pszoniak and many other actors.

theatre directors

Theatre in Poland is very structured and formal as there is so much professionalism enrooted in it. There are different universities and institutions for creatives to pursue their artistic pursuits. Thus, theatre is and will remain one of the most profound creative expressions of the times to come. The most famous theatre in the country and people’s favorite remains to be the National Theatre in Warsaw. This theatre is known for its relevance in the modern-day as it asks through its plays questions that are staggering in the modern times. This theatre is known for its not-so-conservative take and an ever-challenging tone with its experiments.

The next in line to be a national theatre is the national old theatre in Krakow. This is the only one belonging to the union of European theatres. This theatre undertakes a more subtle and conservative approach in its experiments and is widely liked by the people of Poland. The current collaborator of this old theatre is Krystian Lupa and he is known for producing dramas by German writers. He has done existential and philosophical experiments in yet poetic and more modern-day human-centric rather than plot or conflict-centered.

The very famous actors and directors that have emerged from the polish theatre are Tadeusz Kantor (1915-1990) and Andrzej Seweryn who later worked on the staging of Mahabharata. This country also saw a genuine rebirth after the fall of the Soviet empire in its theatre with the rise of actor, director, and politician Jerzy Fedorowicz(1989-2005). It was under him that the theatre managed to win considerable recognition and several awards. The current director of this theatre is Jacek Strama, an award-winning theatre and film producer.

theatrical reform

The most courageous part of theatrical reform in the 20th century is linking theatre with metaphysics. This was commenced by one of the Polish Romantics Adam Mickiewicz. This paved way for the Stainslaw Wyspianskis work, which remains reverentially complex, lucid, vivid, and a fascinating Polish Heritage. The holocaust of the twentieth century also gave rise to the theatre of death with many famous productions like, Wielopole or I shall never return and the Dead Class referring to the experiences and memories of the tragic events of the holocaust and its survivors. Thus Poland with its rich and vast theatrical and artistic heritage is a sight for all eyes young and old.

The Poles are aware of their recorded memory, and historical facts continue to affect and drive many societal views. The nation was largely regarded to have lost severely during the twentieth century. Pretty much every single Polish household would have been impacted in some way by the oppression and suffering of World War II. Poland was occupied by the Soviet Union after WWII and finally gained independence in 1989. In Poland, these decades saw widespread industrialization, urbanisation, and numerous advances in standard of living. Nevertheless, societal discontent, acute financial struggles, administrative impediments, and the restriction of various types of self and individual liberty undermined the communist system. Many individuals remain unconvinced of politicians and distrustful of government as a consequence of this time.


Polish literature has traditionally been the primary medium for cultural representation in Poland. Poetry and christianity are two foundations of Polish culture for very many Poles. Another of their most valued linkages to Western culture is literary, which serves as among the primary defenders of their nationhood. Even during communist time, though, the strong association between local political rallies and cultural tendencies, as well as the need of resorting to complicated metaphor, references, and symbolism, made many brilliant Polish masterpieces unreachable to the greater community.


Adam Mickiewicz, Juliusz Sowacki, and Zygmunt Krasiski are the three greatest and most famous Polish authors with the first half of the 19th century. Wonderful Polish literature writers, such as Bolesaw Prus, Eliza Orzeszkowa, Stefan eromski, and Nobel Prize winners Henryk Sienkiewicz (1905) and Wadysaw Reymont (1924), were involved even during late nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth century, who were mostly a portion of the Young Poland motion. The brilliant author Joseph Conrad (Józef Teodor Konrad Korzeniowski), although matured works were in English but who contributed a decidedly non-English dramatic sensitivity to English literature, should be included to this list. The welcome granted to clandestine writing that began after World War II but it was not recognised till the 1950s and 1960s is an example.

The newer generation writers

Zbigniew Herbert, Tadeusz Róewicz, and Nobel Laureates Czesaw Miosz and Wisawa Szymborska were among the most prominent artists of the post war era. Screenwriters Witold Gombrowicz and Sawomir Mroek, scientific research author Stanisaw Lem, and journalist and novelist Ryszard Kapuciski, as well as expat novelist Jerzy Kosinski and non – resident Nowa fala poet Adam Zagajewski, got global acclaim in the latter half of the twentieth century. Polish poetry, which was produced on the outside of European throughout the majority of the 20th century, has been acknowledged as a crucial influence not only in the cultural scene of Poland, but also in global literature in large.

Such as Polish poetry, Polish musicianship has a long history dating back to medieval Times. Government restrictions were less severe since it was the weakest overtly political of the crafts. The krakowiak, mazurka, and polonaise, native qualities of this genre based on the unique beats and harmonies of folk music, developed earlier, and a separate style of Polish religious music had become clearly established by the Renaissance. Cud mniemany, czyli Krakowiacy I Górale, the very first significant Polish musical, was presented in 1794 by Jan Stefani and Wojciech Bogusawski. Stanisaw Moniuszko created a number of renowned songs in the nineteenth century, notably Halka, Straszny dwór (“The Haunted Manor”), and Hrabina (“The Countess”).


The sound of music

Frédéric Chopin is often regarded as the musical embodiment of Polishness. He is just one in a continuous succession of percussionists from Polish territories to win worldwide acclaim, adding to his reputation as one of the greatest genius musicians. Ignacy Paderewski and Artur Rubinstein, and also Henryk Szeryng, a violinist, testifies to the vigour of Polish musicianship. Karol Szymanowski, Witold Lutosawski, Henryk Górecki, and Krzysztof Penderecki have influenced modern Polish composing.

Opera, symphonic, theater, and chamber music are quite well in Poland, and numerous symphonies and choruses perform frequently on the world stage. But even though Polish jazz, which was formally silenced in the first twenty years of communist rule, has earned a name for experimentation and greatness, thanks in part to the groundbreaking work of performers like Micha Urbaniak, Tomasz Stanko, and Leszek Moder, mainstream music in Poland is hugely affected by Western ideals. Events like the Warsaw Jazz Jamboree and Jazz on the Oder attract musicians and audiences from all over the globe.

Visual arts

Many beautiful specimens of mediaeval Roman and Medieval buildings, both secular and religious, have indeed been conserved, along with magnificent statues, the most renowned of which would be Veit Stoss’s (Wit Stwosz) hardwood shrine at Kraków’s St. Mary’s Church (Koció Mariacki). The gigantic red fortress of Malbork (Marienburg), previously the Teutonic Knights’ stronghold, is one of Europe’s finest spectacular; a strong fortress was awarded an UNESCO World Heritage site in the year 1997. The main building of Pozna and the ornate farm buildings at Kazimierz Dolny are examples of Early renaissance Greek architecture that were influenced by Italian influences yet acquired distinct Polish form. Zamo, a classic Medieval city founded in the 1580s, has been preserved almost completely intact.

Visual arts


With common convictions in kinship ties and equality, the people is mainly bonded despite economic classes. Poland is, in fact, more group – oriented than other Western countries due to its profound roots in conservative values. Be a consequence, it is frequently referred to as “Eastern” when contrasted to Central Europe. Poles, on the other hand, have long considered themselves to be the’softest’ of all the Slavic people.