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Welcome to the Poland Portal — Witaj w Portalu o Polsce

Cityscape of Kraków, Poland's former capital
Cityscape of Kraków, Poland's former capital
Coat of arms of Poland

Poland is a country in Central Europe, bordered by Germany to the west; the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south; Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania to the east; and the Baltic Sea and Russia's Kaliningrad Oblast to the north. It is an ancient nation whose history as a state began near the middle of the 10th century. Its golden age occurred in the 16th century when it united with the Grand Duchy of Lithuania to form the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth. During the following century, the strengthening of the gentry and internal disorders weakened the nation. In a series of agreements in the late 18th century, Russia, Prussia and Austria partitioned Poland amongst themselves. It regained independence as the Second Polish Republic in the aftermath of World War I only to lose it again when it was occupied by Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union in World War II. The nation lost over six million citizens in the war, following which it emerged as the communist People's Republic of Poland under strong Soviet influence within the Eastern Bloc. A westward border shift followed by forced population transfers after the war turned a once multiethnic country into a mostly homogeneous nation state. Labor turmoil in 1980 led to the formation of the independent trade union called Solidarity (Solidarność) that over time became a political force which by 1990 had swept parliamentary elections and the presidency. A shock therapy program during the early 1990s enabled the country to transform its economy into one of the most robust in Central Europe. With its transformation to a democratic, market-oriented country completed, Poland joined NATO in 1999 and the European Union in 2004.

Christmas in Poland

Szopka krakowska A szopka krakowska (example pictured left) is a nativity scene traditionally constructed in Kraków during the Christmas season. Its distinctive feature is the use of architectural details of Kraków's historical landmarks as a backdrop for the nativity of Jesus.

Christmas carol singing has long been a popular tradition in Poland. The oldest known Polish carols date back to the 15th century. Among the most beloved (recordings listed right) are the lulling "Lulajże, Jezuniu" ("Sleep, Little Jesus"), the joyful "Dzisiaj w Betlejem" ("Tonight in Bethlehem"), and the majestic "Bóg się rodzi" ("God is Born").

Media related to Polish Christmas carols at Wikimedia Commons

From Polish history – show another

Polish defenses near Miłosna
Polish defenses near Miłosna
The Polish–Soviet War, fought between 1919 and 1921, determined the borders between two nascent states in post–World War I Europe. It was a result of conflicting attempts — by Poland, whose statehood had just been reëstablished after it being partitioned in the late 18th century, to secure territories which it had lost in the partitions — and by the Bolsheviks who aimed to take control of the same territories that had since then been part of Imperial Russia until their occupation by Germany during World War I. The conflict ended with the Peace of Riga which divided Ukraine and Belarus between the Second Polish Republic and the newly formed Soviet Union. Both states claimed victory in the war: the Poles claimed a successful defense of their state, while the Soviets claimed a repulse of the Polish Kiev Offensive, which was sometimes viewed as part of foreign interventions in the Russian Civil War. (Full article...)

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In this 1862 work by Poland's preeminent historical painter, Jan Matejko, royal court jester Stańczyk appears to be the only person at a ball given by Queen Bona Sforza of Poland, to be troubled by the news of the 1514 capture of the Lithuanian city of Smolensk by Muscovite forces. Matejko, who in his works endowed Stańczyk with his own facial features, created the popular image of the Renaissance jester as a serious thinker concerned with his homeland's fate.

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Elephantomyia pulchella

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George Chapman, born Seweryn Antonowicz Kłosowski, one of many Jack the Ripper suspects
George Chapman, born Seweryn Antonowicz Kłosowski, one of many Jack the Ripper suspects
"Jack the Ripper" is the best known pseudonym given to an unidentified serial killer active in the largely impoverished districts in and around the Whitechapel district of London's East End in 1888. Attacks ascribed to the Ripper typically involved women prostitutes from the slums whose throats were cut prior to abdominal mutilations. As the murders were never solved, the legends surrounding them became a combination of genuine historical research, folklore, and pseudohistory. Among more than one hundred Jack the Ripper suspects suggested since 1888, there have been several Poles and Polish Jews. These include Seweryn Antonowicz Kłosowski (pictured), also known as George Chapman, a serial killer executed in 1903; Aaron Kosminski, an insane Jew from Kłodawa; and John Pizer, another Polish Jew, also known as "Leather Apron". In 1987, Martin Fido, a ripperologist, speculated that the crimes may have been committed by Nathan Kaminsky, a Polish Jew who went by a generic Jewish name, David Cohen. The civil parish of Whitechapel around the time of the murders was experiencing an influx of immigrants from Ireland and Eastern Europe; its population was transient, impoverished and often used aliases. The Ripper's true identity will almost certainly never be known. (Full article...)

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Zielona Góra town hall

Zielona Góra is a city in western Poland. Prior to World War II it was part of the German province of Brandenburg and known as Grünberg; both Polish and German names mean "Green Mountain". Grünberg grew during the 19th century thanks to booming textile industry. Today it is the seat of the legislature (sejmik) of the Lubusz Voivodeship. The surrounding area is one few places in Poland that are suitable for growing grapes. Wine has been produced locally since the 13th century and a wine festival has taken place annually since 1852. The best known modern local wine is called Monte Verde, which is the city's name in Latin.

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Poland now

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Pro-choice protest in Kraków

Holidays and observances in December 2020
(statutory public holidays in bold)

Polish Christmas tree baubles

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