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Cultural Differences Between Poland and England

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Essay title: Cultural Differences Between Poland and England

Culture may have its sources in different aspects of human life, as: language, nationality, education, profession, group, religion, family, social class, corporate culture. All these elements influence every member of a society and thus, culture is learnt and transmitted to others.

Differences between people within any given nation or culture are much greater than differences between groups. Polish people and British, although have a lot of common in terms of historical inheritance, they vary in many aspects of social life and these differences naturally affect the behaviour and culture.

Much of the differences in culture have to do with superstitions. Many of today’s traditions and superstitions date back thousands of years. It is surprising how many of these were originally to ward off evil spirits, as well to enhance good luck, fertility and prosperity.

For example, bielief that black cat crossing your path can affect your luck goes far back in time. In Poland, it is considered unlucky to see the black cat crossing the road and it is probably because of the fact that the black cat was supposed to be a witch in disguise, or some kind of spy or helper for her. It may therefore have been imagined to possess the same magical abilty to cause harm.

Conversly, in England the black cat is considered to be something lucky. There is a story about King Charles the first of England who owned a black cat and whom he valued very much. He treasured the cat so much that he had his guards watch over it twenty-four hours a day. Coincidentally the cat died the very day before Oliver Cromwell's parliamentary troops came and arrested the king. Shortly after, King Charles was taken to the scaffold and beheaded. Nowadys, black Cats are featured on many good luck greetings cards and birthday cards in England.

Other interesting superstitions are connected with wedding. According to the one of the most popular wedding superstition in Poland, the best month to get married has to have the letter “r” in it’s name. Like family – “rodzina”.

In British culture months have their good and bad omens too. For example these who wed in July, according to belief must always labour for their bread. To get married in August is considered in Poland as a good thing but in Great Britain: “whoever wed in August be, many a change are sure to see”.

Also, a glance in the mirror just before the fully-dressed bride leaves for her wedding is considered good luck in England while in Poland the same thing brings sorrow to the life of a young bride.

There is also a superstition connected with the presence of the chimney sweep at the wedding for good luck. This apparently dates back to the time of King George the third. The king was riding his horse in a royal procession when a dog suddenly appeared and started biting his horse's legs, causing him to lose control of his animal. A man rushed out from the crowd, regained control of the horse, and disappeared back into the crowd. Later, when the procession had ended, the King wanted to thank personally the man he believed had saved his life. All that he could discover about the mystery man was his occupation, that of a chimney sweep. The king decreed that from that day all chimney sweeps should be considered as lucky.

In Poland it is also widely believed that if you see a chimney sweep, it is lucky. However, you have to grab your button (hopefully you have one at that particular moment - on your wardrobe, bag, etc.), if you do not do this, you will be not guaranteed to have good luck. This belief dates back to the Middle Ages. At that time the houses of the villagers were covered with thatch. These thatched roofs could easly catch the fire, destroying everything. Chimney sweep who appeared in the village was considered as a great happiness. He was supposed to get rid of the soot from the chimneys and thus, the lifes of the villagers were out of danger.

Another common tradition in England is that if a horseshoe is hung on a door with the two ends pointing up then good luck will occur. Both, Poles as British put horseshoes up for luck, but Polish people put them upside down. Two ends pointing up resembled the horns which people used to hang on the doors for their protection from centuries. According to the belief, the horsheshoe in the shape of letter “U” (the ends pointed up then) was bringing good luck. Conversly, the ends pointed down were supposed to protect the owner of the horseshoe against evil spirits.

Differences between Poles and Britons manifest also in mentality. British people do not understand the meaning of the verbs “załatwic” or “kombinowac” what can be explained as “to make business, especially if very clever but semi-illegal or dishonest” or simply if a person is in a fix and is trying to get out

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