Tag Archives: Toruń

Polandian on Sunday #5

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Welcome to Polandian on Sunday with a brief summary of what happened this week in Poland.

1. Poland to launch a Mars base

This week plans for a Polish Martian base were announced. The originality of the idea is to actually build the base on Earth rather than on Mars, and save some money in times of crisis.

Just kidding – this is a serious business: The facility was designed at the Gdańsk University of Technology and project managed by the Mars Society Polska. It will allow not only scientific research, but will also include an education and hotel module. It will be open to tourists and visitors and will provide education programme for youth and astronomy enthusiasts. The facility, which will be bult in the city of Toruń, is to be completed by the year 2011. Similar bases already function in the US state of Utah and in Canada, however these are closed for the public.

The project has the backing of Committee on Space Research (COSPAR), European Space Agency and NASA.

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There are already quite a few interesting things to see in Toruń. The beautiful and atmospheric Old Town is filled with spectacular medieval sights all there to admire while you lazily sip coffee or beer in one of many open-air cafes and restaurants. Toruń, since the middle ages, is also the place where the most delicious ginger-bread cookies are made. Apart from buying the legendary delicacies, visitors often choose to have a go themselves at baking. Local Gingerbread Museum offers cooking classes in medieval style.

However, the city which calls itself “cosmopolis”, also has a more cosmic dimension. Nicolaus Copernicus, the first to discover Earth revolves around the Sun, and not the other way around, is probably the city’s most famous inhabitant. Today Toruń is a home to an important astronomy research centre where visitors can listen to the radio signals from outer-space, cuddle one of the largest radio telescopes in Europe and visit a planetarium. Soon they will be able to check out how it feels to be on Mars or try on a space suit. Cool, huh?

2. Controversial police adverts

The police have begun a new awareness campaign on motorcycle accidents. According to police data, most of the accidents in which motorcycles take part end with serious injuries that leave people permanently disabled.

To make their message perfectly clear, the police and their advertising agency BBDO, have come up with a following poster

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The slogan reads “Spring is coming. Time for vegetables”. And a smaller print underneath: “Use your imagination – slow down”.

Motorcyclists felt upset and filed a complaint to the Ombudsman.

3. Crisis food

The crisis has a wonderful media coverage and so far, thankfully, it is present mostly in the media in Poland, rather than in the “real world”. Who could expect the crisis would become a source of inspiration for this entrepreneurial nation? The media in Poznań region, where inhabitants are known for their lack of enthusiasm for spending money (to say it mildly) report on new “crisis” foods.

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Local butchers have come up with a new kiełbasa kryzysowa (crisis sausage). It is cheap: 9 zł/kg while for instance the traditional kiełbasa śląska costs twice as much. Poznań-person’s dream come true. There’s a similar idea at local Fabryka kanapek, a sandwich retailer. The assistant proudly presents their recession sandwich (“kanapka recesyjna”), with gherkin and pork crackling. Local white collars reportedly praise this as an alternative to chicken breast and cherry tomatoes.

Zofia Golusińska, a Poznań restaurateur complains that bank executives who used to be her regular customers, now pretend to be hit by the crisis and have stopped eating lunches at her restaurant. She’s luring them back with a special “crisis menu” hoping lower prices will discourage her customers from bringing their own food to work.

In Warsaw, on the other hand, moods are quite different. Compared with modest Poznań, Varsavians continue to indulge in sensual pleasures: they have just voted for the city’s new cake.

The wuzetka cake, Warsaw’s old sweet symbol was simple, square, dark and heavy. It originated in the communist era, and became the favourite served in cafes. Black and white layers were to resemble the tarmac – as the cake was named after an inner-city motorway. The new zygmuntówka is a light pastry with delicate creamy filling, exotic cranberries, topped with meringue.  It resembles the new playful and naughty spirit of Warsaw, and the local tendency to show-off.

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GOING UP

Swine flu panic
– Don’t panic people, read WHO factsheet. This is not a deadly virus. This swine flu behaves more or like ordinary flu. 1-4% of those infected have died – but the exact number of sick is unknown, as they only discovered this illness by accident – which means mild cases who have recovered themselves probably weren’t probably ever found out, so the “mortality rate” could be way of proportions. Or not, and then you may panic.

GOING DOWN

Condom sales for the underage –  Seriously – this is a bizarre story. Rossmann, the retailer of cosmetics and chocolate bars was asking every young condom-buyer for an ID. They refused to sell it to those who weren’t eighteen yet. This policy has come to light this week. Apparently Rossman was sent a letter by the Ombudsman for children, the same person who suspected one of the teletubbies was “promoting” homosexuality. Such letter had no executive power whatsoever. Moreover it is a public offence to refuse a sale of publicly available products.

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Polandian on Sunday #2

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Welcome to Polandian on Sunday with a brief summary of what happened this week in Poland.

1. The Polish-Polish pierogi war.

Pierogi, dumplings with many varieties of filling, are a Polish specialty. They have also become the subject of a major row.

As businesses serving pizza are called pizzerias, those serving pierogi are called pierogarnias. At least they were – until this week.

Pierogi places around Poland have received letters from the lawyers of the “Polskie Pierogarnie” company, demanding the word “pierogarnnia” be removed from their street signs, menus, business cards and ads. Apparently the company has registered the name “pierogarnia” at the patent office.

Many pierogi establishments argue “pierogarnia” is a generic name. Lawyers are already jumping with joy at the prospect of a long and difficult trial. So are Polish philologists, who as court language experts will finally be able to find a job connected with their studies.


2. A new biography of Lech Wałęsa’s draws an unflattering image

Previously there were the accusations of Wałęsa’s co-operation with communist secret services. This week is all about the new book claiming that Wałęsa, inter alia:
– peed into a font when he was 9;
– attacked peasant parties with an axe;
– had an illegitimate child, which he never officially acknowledged;
– and repeating the old claim that he was an agent of communist secret services.

The book, which is actually a master’s thesis, by 24-year-old Paweł Zyzak, caused a massive outcry this week. Controversial claims remain unverified, and in many cased unverifiable. Stories from Wałęsa’s youth are based on anonymous accounts from villages where Wałęsa used to live. Journalists soon followed the paths taken by Mr Zyzak – and heard the same things from the local peasant folk.

Established historians have criticised the work as not being compliant with proper methodology.

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Wałęsa is outraged. His first reaction was to say that he did not fight for a Poland such as this, and that he considered returning the Nobel Prize and other awards, and leaving the country. Mr Zyzak has been condemned by Poland’s top-people. The government is outraged too, and wants to control how the Jagiellonian University, founded 1364, protects scientific standards while granting degrees in its History Department—a proposal that some see as a breach of the universities’ independence and of freedom of speech.

Mr Zyzak is also the author of other original thoughts. As a Kaczynski brothers’ Law and Justice party politician he demanded that Gazeta Wyborcza, the most popular Polish broadsheet, be removed from schools because it “promotes hatred of the Polish state, and it spits on national and local authorities”. He also said that gay people are “animals and descendants of the devil”. In one article he wrote: “Fags, using individual physical and verbal attacks against them, cunningly gather people’s compassion”.

Since he might be stripped of his masters – he should be hoping for some compassion himself these days.

3. Barack Obama – a descendant of Polish monarchs?

In the desserts of the Sahara, in the jungles of Manhattan, on the beaches of the Seychelles: Polish people are everywhere in the world. As it turns out, the current occupant of the White House might be Polish too. At least a bit.

Previous studies proved Barack Obama’s connection to the English house of Plantagenet and Edward I.  A Czech expert explores the connection between the Plantagenets, the Polish house of Piast and the Bohemian house of Przemyślid (cz. Přemyslid).

Descent Table of Barack Obama, King Edward I of England and Mieszko I, Duke of Poland.

Mieszko I, Duke of Poland  ? – 992
Bolesław Chrobry (Boleslas the Brave), King of Poland 967 – 1025
Mieszko II, King of Poland 990 – 1034
Kazimierz Odnowiciel (Casimir the Restorer), Duke of Poland 1016 – 1058
Władysław Herman (Ladislas Herman), Duke of Poland 1043 – 1102
Bolesław Krzywousty (Boleslas III Wrymouth Piast), Duke of Poland 1085-1138
Władysław II, (Ladislas II Piast), Duke of Krakow and Silesia 1105-1159
Rychilda (Richilde Piast), 1135-1198
Sancha of Castille 1154-1208
Alphonse II, Count of Provence ca 1180-1209
Raimond-Bérenger V, Count of Provence & Forcalquier ca 1205-1245
Eléonore of Provence 1223-1291
Edward I Longshanks Plantagenêt, King of England 1239-1307
Elizabeth Plantagenêt 1282-1316
William de Bohun, Earl of Northampton ca 1311-1360
Elisabeth de Bohun ca 1350-1385
Elizabeth Fitzalan 1366-1425
Joan Goushill
Catherine Stanley
Dulcia Savage
Maud Bold
Jennet Gerard
William Eltonhead
Richard Eltonhead
Martha Eltonhead
Eltonhead Conway
Martha Thacker
Edwin Hickman
James Hickman 1723-1816
Susannah Hickman
Annie Browning
George Washington Overall 1820-1871
Susan C Overall 1849
Gabriella Clark 1877
Ruth Lucille Armour 1900-1926
Stanley Armour Dunham 1918-1992
Ann Dunham 1942-1995
Barack Obama 1961-

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Mieszko I Piast - probably Barack Obama's forefather.

4. The last etude at Okęcie

An étude is an instrumental musical composition, most commonly of considerable difficulty, usually designed to provide practice material for perfecting a particular technical skill. It was also the name of a terminal at Warsaw’s Okęcie Chopin Airport. First opened in 1976 it served as the arrivals hall until 1992, when Terminal 1 was extended and refurbished. The number of passengers continued to grow, and very soon exceeded its capacity. In 2004 Etiuda was reopened to accommodate the rapidly growing low cost airlines. It was thought of only as a temporary solution since Terminal 2 was in the last phases of construction. There were also advanced plans to open a new airport further away from Warsaw.

Things didn’t go according to plan: Terminal 2’s launch was repeatedly postponed and the plans for a new airport plans were abandoned. The tiny space of Etiuda was getting more and more crowded – from 474,000 passengers in 2004 – to 948,000 in 2008. Overcrowding, together with greatly insufficient number of places to sit, lack of bars, restaurants or shops, tiny toilets, no air conditioning and delayed flights – meant that each visit to Etiuda was an horrific experience, that stayed with each visitor for a long time. We’ve mentioned this at Polandian before as well.

This week Etiuda was finally closed (ignoring protests from Ryanair, Easyjet and WizzAir) – which was celebrated with a grande fete outside the terminal in the Polish 70s style. Telebims displayed scenes from cult Polish comedy films in which the terminal was featured. The public got hot tea with vodka from thermos flasks and egg sandwiches wrapped in breakfast paper. Old style ‘crew’ with odd haircuts and vile make-up presented a happening: a very rude and disrespectful ‘check-in’ service. A reminder of how it was during the communist days – now a laughing matter. A huge “Closed” sign was lit up to finish off the night. Etude is over.

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GOING UP

Nudists – who might be getting a brand new beach on Warsaw’s Vistula bank. The Warsaw’s City Council motion aims to recreate the once popular nudist spot near Wał Miedzeszyński. The project needs the support of the mayoress of Warsaw Hanna Gronkiewicz-Walz, whom you can contact with petitions at ajaworska@warszawa.um.gov.pl.

The Polish economy – according to The Economist Poland will be the only country in Europe, excluding Slovakia and Slovenia, with a GDP growth in 2009 (0.7% to be precise). Other countries will experience a negative GDP growth rate due to the current crisis. Poland’s prognosis for 2010 is a more optimistic 2.2% GDP growth rate.

Firefox web browser – which, for the first time had a larger market share (45.3%) in Poland, than Internet Explorer (45.0%)

GOING DOWN

Radek Sikorski – the current Minister for Foreign Affairs lost his bid to become NATO Secretary General. Reportedly the Americans wanted the Danish guy (Anders Fogh-Rasmussen). Mr Sikorski should have thought twice, before he supported McCain against Obama the Piast.

The Centre of Contemporary Art in Toruń – which has hidden from view a part of its own exhibition on Saturday. The exposition entitled “Lucim lives on” presents peasant inspirations in modern art. One of the elements of the exhibition was a film, which the CoCA director, politically appointed figure, perceives as ‘obscene’ or ‘pornographic’. Conservatism and censorship is hardly a surprise when you think that instead of a speech from the curator presenting the CoCA’s programme during its launch ceremony, there was a priest offering prayer for the CoCA to “make benefit the glorious people of Toruń”.

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Warsaw, Indiana and other non-Polish oddities

Polish place names crop up all over North America and other parts of the globe settled by Poles. Nothing particularly amazing about that, but when you’re lying in bed with the dreaded January virus it’s possible to become a little obsessed with looking them all up. From there it’s a small step to collecting photos of all these geographical orphans, and from there it’s more or less inevitable that one will move on to putting together a blog post about it. It’s a cycle with all the hideous inevitability of the slippery slope from sniffing magic markers to crack cocaine.

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You spelled Warszawa wrong

The Warsaws

North America boasts at least 15 Warsaws. Like a big lummox I always assumed this was because people from Warsaw migrated there and couldn’t be bothered to think of a new name for their new town. In fact the proliferation of Warsaws in the United States was politically motivated. In 1794 in Poland Tadeusz Kościuszko led a rebellion against the occupying powers of the Second Partition. The rebellion failed and even more Poles found it advisable to seek a new life in the New World. Working from first hand accounts she had heard from these refugees the American author Jane Porter wrote Thaddeus of Warsaw (published 1803) an historical novel based on the uprising and the deeds of Kościuszko, who was already an heroic figure in the US for the prominent role he had played in the American Revolution (War of Independence) twenty years earlier. The novel was a huge success and all sorts of people got excited about Kościuszko all over again. Many of them got so excited that they decided Warsaw was a much better name for a town than, say, Buffalobuttock or Thiswilldoville, so they changed it. Almost none of these towns had any significant Polish population at the time.

To add to the confusion some of the brighter communities remembered that Thaddeus (Tadeusz) wasn’t actually from Warsaw and decided to call their towns Kosciusko instead (two surviving communities; one in Mississippi and one in Texas), and some Polish immigrants also decided to change the names of their towns from New Szczecin or Nowy Katowice to Warsaw for simplicity’s sake.

Warsaw, Kosciusko County, Indiana

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Warsaw, Indiana… they have tools.

Warsaw, Indiana is by far the largest of the surviving US communities to bear the name, with a present-day population of about 13,000.

Interesting facts: The town’s motto is “Orthopedic Capital of the World,” which is probably why you’ve never met anybody who admits to coming from there. The first resident to install a telephone was Dr. Eggleston in 1882: his number was Warsaw 1. A shady sounding character by the name of Paul E. “Mike” Hodges was mayor four times between 1952 and 1983 and I like to believe he looked a lot like Boss Hogg off the Dukes of Hazard.

Best website quote: “In addition to orthopedics, Warsaw: 1) is the home of the largest printing presses in the world, 2) home to the world’s largest manufacturer of projection screens, and 3) home of the famous CoCo Wheat’s breakfast cereal.” Just how big are those printing presses?


Warsaw, Duplin County, North Carolina

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West Hill Street, Warsaw, North Carolina. Ain’t no trains a commin…

Interesting facts: Originally known as Mooresville the town changed it’s name to Warsaw in 1855. Told you it was true.

Best website quote: “During the same year, a merchant named Thaddeus Love moved to town to be the stationmaster of the Duplin Depot. At the time, a biography of a Polish national hero, Tadeusz Kosciuszko, was extremely popular. The Joane Porter book, entitled Thaddeus of Warsaw, furnished Thaddeus Love a catchy nickname. In fact, Love’s nickname was so appealing, that by 1847, the community was already known in legal circles as “Warsaw Depot.” When the town was incorporated in 1855, the community was officially designated as Warsaw.”

Warsaw, Gallatin County, Kentucky

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Small town America… they have hardware

The third-largest of the American Warsaws, just.

Interesting facts: Erm…

Best website quote: “The city has a total area of 1.5 square miles of which 1.0 square mile is land and 0.5 square mile is water.” So, a third of your city is under water, perhaps you should be twinned with Wrocław?

Warsaw, Hancock County, Illinois

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The Warsaw post office. You have to wonder what would happen if you posted a letter to Warsaw Illinois in Warsaw Masovia, somewhere a post office employee would just explode surely.

Interesting facts: The first settlement in the area was a fort established by future US president Zachary Taylor to fight the British. Well it’s a fact anyway.

Best website quote: “Whether just passing through or staying for awhile, there are no strangers here in Warsaw.” That might just be because nobody ever goes there.

Warsaw, Richmond County, Virginia

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Warsaw, Virginia is for lovers. You can tell I’m running out of real information can’t you

Interesting facts: “Warsaw was originally called Richmond County Courthouse. It was renamed Warsaw in 1831 in sympathy for the Polish struggle for liberty”. I’m sure the Polish struggle felt much better, if not much more liberated.

Best website quote: “To have your child seat inspected, please call 804-333-3737 for an appointment.”

Warsaw, Wyoming County, New York

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Warsaw, New York… you can turn left there

Interesting facts, website favorite thing… whatever: “Warsaw’s growth and its physical appearance was especially influenced by the salt industry. Between 1878 and 1894 Warsaw became the nation’s largest producer of table salt.” A whole sixteen years at the pinnacle of the table salt industry can be a powerful rush for a town.

Warsaw, Sumter County, Alabama

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Now that’s a small town…

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…also not a very busy one

Warsaw, Walsh County, North Dakota

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There’s a definite tool, or should I say tuel, theme to these places

A genuine Polish community! Apparently it remained largely Polish-speaking until the mid 20th century. It has about 200 residents and a Catholic church (St. Stanislaus’ of course) big enough to accommodate the population of Nebraska.

Warsaw, Washington County, Mississippi

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Warsaw, Mississippi seems to consist of just this bend in the road with its bike/tractor bar

Warsaw, Rice County, Minnesota

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A sign! A sign!

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This is the kind of road that says “Why are you living in Warsaw Minnesota… get out now!”

Warsaw, Kaufman County, Texas

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See comment above on the usefulness of roads

Interesting facts: “The site was settled before 1840 and called Warsaw Prairie. A post office operated in the settlement from 1847 through 1858. The community had a population of fifteen and two businesses in 1936. Afterward, however, Warsaw stabilized at about sixty residents; fifty-eight persons lived there in 1988 and 1990”. ‘Stabilized’ may be a polite term.

Other places

Perhaps surprisingly there seem to be very few communities named after Polish cities other than Warsaw. There are a scattering of Danzigs, Breslaus, and Stettins (the former, German names, of Gdansk, Wrocław, and Szczecin respectively) but few others. These are some of the exceptions, all of which seem to have been Polish immigrant communities.

Lublin, Taylor County, Wisconsin

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If there’s ever a fire in the village hall they’re sorted

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Interesting facts: Population: 108. Churches: St. Stanislaus Catholic Church, St. Mary’s Polish National Church, Holy Assumption Orthodox Church. Town president: Bill Wisniewski.

Best website quote: “Special Features of Lublin: Pig Roast, Municipal Sewer system, Senior citizen nutrition site, …and more!”

Silesia, Carbon County, Montana

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The road to Silesia, Montana if you dare

Torun, Portage County, Wisconsin

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Not even a usable Google Earth image of this place

Torun, Wisconsin is part of the larger originally Polish community of Portage County. Other communities in the area include Plover, Ellis, Amherst, Custer, and Polonia.

Breslau, Pierce County, Nebraska

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Maybe it was a town once

Danzig, McIntosh County, North Dakota

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Danzig, North Dakota in about 1915

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Danzig, North Dakota cemetery today. Either headstones weren’t in fashion or this was an undead community.

Clearly a German-speaking community, but included here for completeness.

Best website quote:
“I am writing this history of my hometown, Danzig, North Dakota, simply because I do not want it to be forgotten.”

That other Poland

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If you must live in a Poland, why not this one?

The Pacific island of Kiritimati, formerly known as Christmas Island, has four settlement: Poland, London, Paris, and Banana (honest). Poland, Kiribati has a population of about 250 and apparently got its name thanks to the efforts of a Polish sailor who helped the local inhabitants build an irrigation system.

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Poland, from above

In the 1950s Britain put a bit of a crimp in property prices on the island by conducting a series of nuclear weapons tests there (Operation Grapple). At a dull moment in dinner-table conversation you can point out the Britain once nuked Christmas, Poland, and London all at the same time.

If you’re reading this and you’re from one of these places say hello, and I apologize in advance for taking the mick.

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It’s bank holiday weekend. Put the flags out!

The first, second and third day of May are all national holidays in Poland, which require the national flag to be displayed on all buildings. Fellow blogger Island1 has already introduced our readers to the May festivities in previous post.

I had a walk around the town this evening and I was amazed at how many different ways the flag is displayed. Could they all be correct? Let’s investigate…

First things first. What is the flag of Poland? There’s a special act regulating this matter, which includes specifications for dimensions and colours. In short the Polish flag looks like this:

The Flag Of Poland

Upper half white, lower half red. Simple. Elegant. Beautiful.

Things are never that simple. You may come across a situation when the flag also comprises of the Coat Of Arms of Poland.

making it look like this:

The Flag Of Poland With The Coat Of Arms

The second variant is also correct. It is, however, intended for use in Poland’s embassies in foreign countries, and on Polish ships. The reason is that the basic design is exactly the same as local flags of many regions around the world, such as Bohemia in the Czech Republic, Upper Austria or the Spanish province of Cantabria. The basic design is at the same time very similar to the flags of Monaco and Indonesia, both of which have the red bit in the upper half, while the lower half is white. The second design is used abroad in order to prevent things getting mixed up.
If you see the Flag with the coat of arms in a shop in Poland, don’t buy it. Go for the basic two-colour design.

If you are a home owner, even if you weren’t born in Poland, you might consider it a good idea to put the flag outside your property. However unlike public institutions you are not lawfully obliged to. If you do it, there are some official guidelines to follow (based on a Sejm Act, but again: there are no sanctions for not acting accordingly).
– The national flag may be on display from sunrise to sunset. Light should be installed if the flag is displayed longer;
– The national flag should be clean at all times, colour and pattern ought to be clear, the flag cannot be crumpled or frayed;
– The flag may not be put out in rainy days or in strong wind;
– The flag should not touch the ground or the base of the mast.

The law does not regulate the display of the European Union or other (for instance UK) flags. However priority should always be considered and the Polish flag should always have the prime location.

The Public Prosecutor’s Office in Toruń knows how to put out the flags correctly. They wouldn’t want to prosecute themselves would they?

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Four basic-design flags.

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The Police Constabulary added the flag of the EU

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Very well. The fourth anniversary of joining the EU is also well-worth commemorating. But shouldn’t the Polish flag be on the right? Mhmmm…

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Flag enthusiast.

Although the administrator of this apartment building did put a flag out in the front, this resident obviously though it wasn’t enough, and installed another on his own balcony. He or she is probably a good patriot. The second white and yellow flag is the flag of the Vatican State. It’s an indication that the person who lives here is a keen Roman Catholic (or the apartment is a mohair beret army headquarters).

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Flag heaven

Roman Catholic Church

The Roman Catholic Church is not most known for asceticism. The display of flags here is really generous. Two white and red Polish flags, and FOUR white and blue flags of the city of Toruń. The Polish flags are in the middle (thus: most important), everything is fine.
Maybe the reason for so many flags is that this church is making up for the Eastern Orthodox church on the other side of the road (not shown), which didn’t put any flags out at all?

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Primary School number 24 in Toruń (or Heroes of September 1939 Primary School)

EU flags not present, but two Polish flags are there. Everything is fine.

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International House Toruń – School of English

This is a school of English called International House, home to many English native speakers. If you take a closer look near the door, you still won’t know what the hell that flag is. Most certainly it is not the flag of Poland. This flag is actually an advertisement for the city’s bid for European Capital of Culture 2016. Why is it out there on a national holiday and not the proper flag?

International House – shame on you!

Accidentally this is also the school which taught me English for several years. You can blame my grammar mistakes on them. (Send your hate-mail to ul. Legionów 15, Toruń 87-100). :)

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Is it a ship? Is it a plane?

I assure you that this is not a Polish consulate on foreign soil, but a block of flats in Toruń. The administrator probably likes this style “better”.

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Think locally, act locally

This dated residence with an abandoned front garden is occupied by a really unfriendly dog. The owner decided to put out one city flag – and no national flag. Since there is no obligation to put out a Polish flag, while other flags are unregulated, such a case is permissible (since not forbidden)

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If you put out a flag on national holiday, do it with consideration.

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Although the May holidays are the most celebrated, there are other opportunities for putting up the flag. Here is your Polish year-round flag-calendar:
– May the 18th, the day that commemorates the apprehension of Monte Casino, one of the major battles of the Second World War with a considerable Polish effort
– If you live in Poznań: June 28th, which commemorates the Poznań Protests of 1956
– If you live in Warsaw: August 1st, which commemorates the beginning of the 1944 Warsaw Rising
– anywhere in Poland: August 15th, which commemorates the winning 1920 Battle for Warsaw, one of the most important battles in World History
– August 31st – Solidarity and Freedom Day, which commemorates the establishment of “Solidarność” trade union, the first independent institution in communist world
– September 1st – 1939 German invasion on Poland, beginning of the Second World War, loss of independence for over 50 years
– September 17th – 1939 Soviet invasion on Poland
– November 11th – Independence Day, commemorates regaining independence in 1918 after 123 years of partitions
– December 13th – beginning of the Martial Law in 1981
– April 13th – World Day of Katyn Victims Remembrance
– April 19th – commemorates the beginning of the 1943 Warsaw Ghetto Rising

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My newsblog is never on holiday.

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English-speaker’s guide to the 8th of March: the day when Polish women come out of the shadows

The 8th of March is Women’s Day in Poland – an annual event that used to be just another opportunity for men to buy their girlfriends, wives and mothers flowers and chocolates. For some time, however, it’s been growing as the biggest festival of women’s rights. As an opportunity for women to voice their opinions and persuade people that women have some common interests. That they should take matters in their own hands: do business, get into politics, demand equality within the family, in the workplace etc.

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As the manifesto of 2008 Toruń Manifa (march of protesters) says, ‘Women are everywhere, they are 50% of the society. Yet their voice is not being heard. Women issues and problems women have are ignored and marginalised. We are fed up with this. Therefore it’s high time we did something about it.’

Among the demands, this movement voices, are: proper sex education in schools; easy access to contraception; abolishing the gender role stereotypes that people are socialised to; right to decide about oneself and one’s body; no more treating women as sexual objects; no more treating women like little girls whose opinion doesn’t matter; no more ignoring the needs of women who are elderly, poor, homosexual, of different ethnicity, of low social standing, handicapped or in some other way not-matching the mainstream stereotype of what is feminine.

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This is a grass-roots democratic movement with no one single nationwide organiser. In each town a local committee forms itself, comprising NGOs, university gender studies scientific associations, informal groups or individuals. Therefore these events should be rather seen as a wider movement powered by various people. This tends to be difficult to comprehend for the media, who are used to dealing with a clear hierarchy.

Manifas are cheerful and fun events with lots of open-minded people, colourful clothes, and a serious message. It is a good idea to join this lot in a weekend, you might meet some interesting people. It happens sometimes that a counter demonstration, in this or that city, are organised by nationalist youth groups, who might shout hateful slogans. Be warned – if you’re a sensitive person. Yet there is no danger, as the police are always well prepared to ensure everyone’s safety.

Join the action in your city with this All – Poland guide:
This post will be updated when further news are released.

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G D A Ń S K / S O P O T / G D Y N I A

8 March manifa launches at 14:00 from Cinema City Krewetka in Gdańsk, ul. Karmelicka 1. Colourful and loud march of women will be accompanied by samba sounds

Other events in Tricity:

7 March, 16:00 Exhibition opening “Women in Sejm”, Biblioteka Główna UG (University of Gdańsk Library), ul. Wita Stwosza 53, Gdańsk

7 March, 17:00 Political debate with Iwona Guzowska (Civic Platform),Izabela Jaruga-Nowacka (The Left and Democrats), Anna Kornacka (Women’s Party) and Beata Maciejewska (Greens 2004). Wydział Prawa i Administracji (Law and Administration Department), Audytorium C, ul. Bażyńskiego 6, Gdańsk

8 March 20:00, Afterparty at Faktoria, ul. Rzemieślnicza 26, Sopot.
Programme includes
– Hubert Bilewicz’s presentation on homoerotic motifs in paintings of Tamara Lempicka.
– Exhibition of paintings by Anna Mackiewicz “Woman, woman, woman…”
– Presentation of feminist cartoon satire
– Music by DJ A.A.

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Ł Ó D Ź

8 March Manifa launches at 15:00 on the corner of ul. Łodzianki (former Piotrkowska) and Pasaż Włókniarki (former Schiller) with unveiling of a Woman of Łódź (Łodzianka) monument.

Other events in Łódź:

1 March 21:00, Party raising funds for Manifa, Drag Shows, Club la Foufoune

6 March 18:00,  Iza Desperak lecture “Why a flower is not enough for Eves?” at UŁ Ethnology Institute, ul. Jaracza 78, room 35

7 March (time tba), Women’s Lemon Night + opening of an exhibition of photographs entitled “Our ladies”, Cinema Cytryna

Workshops for teachers, educators and leaders at Centrum Praw Kobiet (Centre for Women’s Rights), ul. Piotrkowska 115, left wing, first floor. Participants will receive certificates.
7 March 14:00 – “Gender and human rights in youth education”
7 March 16:30 – antihomophobic workshop “Teacher without prejudices”
8 March 12:00 – “Intermediate Gender”

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K R A K O W

8 March Manifa launches at 14:00 from Barbakan.

Other events in Krakow:

3 March: 20:00, Party “Feminism the Slovakian way”, Kawiarnia Naukowa (ul. Jakuba 29). Knohe band from Bratislava, doing electronic music. Best outfit competition – fancy dress encouraged.

4March 17:00, Film screening: “Anatomie de l’enfer”, Kino 18, ul. Floriańska 18, 2nd floor

4 March 19:00, “Seeking the traces of goddess” – discussion forum at eFKka foundation, ul. Krakowska 26/1 (in Polish)

5 March18:00, Film screening: “Iron Jawed Angels”, the herstory of Alice Paul + discussion moderated by Agata Teutsch. Klub Bunkra Sztuki.

8 March 20:00, The Dolls party, Cafe Stranger, ul. Dietla 97.

15-16 March, WenDo workshop – self-defence and assertive attitude class for women. For details contact agata.teutsch@wendo.org.pl.

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2104.jpgP O Z N A Ń

8 March Manifa launches at 14:30 near Stary Marych (corner of Półwiejska and Strzelecka), will go through Stary Rynek to Plac Wolności.

Slogan: POzostaje nam tylko ironia (All we have left is irony)

This year’s manifa in Poznań will concentrate critically on the current government’s attitude to women’s issues.

Other events in Poznań:

7 March, 19:00, Debate with politicians on the situation of women after the 2007 election, (Głośna Samotność Bookshop, ul. Ratajczaka 18)

8 March, 17:30, Dia de Mujeres, Głośna Samotność Bookshop, ul. Ratajczaka 18

8 March, 21:00, Afterparty in Klubokawiarnia Meskal, ul. Nowowiejskiego 17 (corner of Młyńska)

9 March, 12:00, Open information meeting about breast cancer and cervical cancer prevention. Ośrodek Babiląd, ul. Bukowska 31/6

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Manifa ToruńT O R U Ń

8 March Manifa will launch at the Old Town Market Square near Copernicus statue (at 14:00), going through ul. Szeroka, ul. Świętej Jadwigi to New Town Market Square and back.

Slogan: Kobiety wyjdźcie z cienia (Women, come out of the shadow!)

Other events in Toruń:

4 March 18:30: “Dakini and the Guardian Lady – the angry face of womanhood in the tradition of Tibetan Buddhism” lecture at the English Department of the Nicolaus Copernicus University. Collegium Maius – Wydział Filologiczny, Fosa Staromiejska 11, room 311 (2nd floor).

6 March 19:00: Movie screening: “If Walls Could Talk 2”, Przestrzeń Alternatywna LaLucza, ul. Podmurna 30/4, (part of Women’s cinema month at LaLucza).

7 March (time tba): Interdisciplinary conference: “Female perspectives: Woman – a gender, a phenomenon, a human or a subject of research?”. Various speakers. Muzeum Okręgowe, Kamienica pod Gwiazdą, Old Town Market Square.

8 March 20:00: Afterparty (entrance fee 3zł) at NRD/Galeria Dla… ul. Browarna 6.
Exhibitions of works by Xavier Bayle (“More Than Bodies” – what is woman’s body?) and photographs by Beaty Ziemowska and Katarzyna Jankowska (“Kobiety na Rozbracie” – )
Performances by Xavier Bayle (“History of one liberation” – Polish version of the bobbits, as Mickewicz would have never described it); by To Masz Cebo (live installation “TEST”); and by Dagmara Pochyła (installation with performative participation of the artist “NEWS”)
Party: DJane LU: experimental, electronica, breakcore, drill, digital hardcore, hard step with Drag Queens and Drag Kings.

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Manifa SilesiaS I L E S I A
( K A T O W I C E)

8 March Manifa launches at 11.00 from the square in front of Teatr Śląski in Katowice.

Slogan: Solidarność jest rodzaju żeńskiego (Solidarity is of feminine gender)

Manifa in Silesia will stress the need for solidarity between women. Solidarity above differences: in class, financial status, education, profession, health, political or religious denomination, cultural background, age or sexual orientation.

Organisers encourage to bring bicycles, noise-making devices and fancy hats.

Anyone wishing to lend her hand in preparing signs, and other manifa gear, is asked to pop to Złoty Osioł Restaurant (ul. Mariacka 1) at 9:00 am.

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S Z C Z E C I N

9 March (!!!) Manifa launches 12:00 from Plac Lotników through Plac Grunwaldzki, City Council building to Rusałka (where Marzan, the male version on Marzanna, will be drowned).

Slogan: Świadoma kobieta to zdrowa kobieta (Woman aware of her rights is a healthy woman)

This year’s Manifa in Szczecin will concentrate on health issues. Women often dedicate their lives to both housework and professional work, taking care of their family they ignore their own health. Many conditions are therefore discovered too late to be treated. Women are uninformed in health matters due to lack of accessible information, caused by insufficient government policies in health awareness. Unsuitably equipped state surgeries, worsening image of medical staff, long waiting list – discourage women from taking interest in their health. Szczein’s Manifa will also stress the problem of infertility and IVF. Infertility treatment should be included free of charge within the state healthcare system. Prenatal examination should be available to all women.

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Manifa WwaW A R S A W

8 March Manifa launches at 12:00 from Plac Defilad near Teatr Dramatyczny.

Slogan: Wielki Marsz Solidarności Kobiet.

Other events in Warsaw:

8 March, 18:00: Post-manifa chill-out. Sylwia Chutnik promotes her book “Kieszonkowy Atlas Kobiet” (“Pocket atlas of women”), Świetlica Raster, ulica Hoża 42 m.8

More from Warsaw to be announced.


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