We Polish-Americans who are the very direct descendants of the First Polish Immigrants to come to the US are a proud bunch. People are surprised to hear that in 1854 the 1st Polish people to come to America to STAY came to Panna Maria, TEXAS and not Chicago or any other Yankee place…
Here is a short cheat sheet on us and our customs.
Follow me, if you can on this first and for most to help you distinguish — Texas Poles from Yankee Poles:
If you are a Texas Pole, when you first meet a Yankee Pole – they will try to impress you by saying that they just “loved the Pierogi’s that their Grandma used to make for them in Chicago”. In response, you just nod and smile, because you have no idea WHAT that is…
You, in turn, will try to impress them by telling them that you used to date one of Bishop Yanta’s nephews – In response, they too just nod and smile, because they have no idea WHO that is…
Your knowledge of the Polish language is limited to
– One greeting – Jak się masz?
– Some Naughty words – ex. dupa, maupa dupa
– A Naughty phrase – Jak sie vieshe
– Counting up to 5: Yeddin, Vah, Shre, Steady, Pienche
– A Drinking toast – Nastrovia!
You know how to dance ALL of the following: the Two-Step, Waltz, Polka, Cotton Eyed Joe, and the Schottish.
Your Wedding had the following elements:
- Your Wedding Mass had to be held on a Saturday after 3:00 or all your guests would be mad because it didn’t count for Sunday
- You had to invite everyone within the entire county so as to not offend anyone. Weddings are up upwards to 1000 people, but could be held at only $7 a person total.
- You had your wedding reception in a Parish Dance Hall
- Your Bridal Party sold shots to your guests to make money for you and kept count by passing out ribbons or stickers for guests to place on their lapel or dress. (sometimes while in full view of the sheriff dept. security)
- You knew to stay away from the flirtier older guys if they had more than 3 ribbons/stickers on their clothes.
- You sold shots as a wedding party person and you drank more shots that others paid for you to drink than you’ve ever drank in your life.
- Your relatives extorted money from your guests for you by singing the folk song – ‘Dietche Dietche’ (Translated: “Diaper, Diaper” – A Polish Folk Song complete with metal aluminum stock pot and ceramic plate for lid to shake in all your guests ‘personal space’)
- You served good BBQ Brisquette and Sausage with all the fixin’s buffet style
- You knew the wedding dance was about to start because your male guests started moving tables out-of-the-way and started sweeping sawdust around the dance floor
- You started your wedding dance with the ‘Grand March’
- Your main beverage came in kegs and you floated several of them
Your Mom wants at least one of her kids to NOT get married but become a priest or nun.
Your Mom may have yelled at you for dressing rather immodestly by saying: “You are NOT dressed like the Blessed Virgin Mary!!!!”. Hahahaha! This rather catty Polish girl used to say behind her back: “Yea, but Mary wore a light blue burkah. That doesn’t fit the times!”
When you told your Grandma that you were dating someone, the first two things she asked in this order were: “Is he Polish?” and “Is he Catholic?”
You own at least one shot-gun and it’s mainly for dove hunting and you fish in “Tanks”. Ponds are in story books.
Your older relatives have a strong devotion to the Saints, the Blessed Virgin, the Pope (meaning the REAL one – John Paul II), and the Democratic Party.
Your Grandma has a shrine somewhere in her house complete with votive candles, Holy Water, a Rosary, Prayer Cards, Novenas, Scapula and at least one of the following forms of art- “The Sacred Heart of Jesus” picture with eyes that follow you around the room, “Our Lady of Czestochowa”, “Our Lady of Fatima” or the “Infant of Prague” .
Insight: My Mom used to bring the Infant of Prague home once a year to clean it. She didn’t know this, but when she went to the grocery store, we’d feel the need to take its crown off, touch its embroidered coat and wish we could pick it up and play with it without going an extra few months into purgatory. We never picked it up, at least I didn’t.
There is also a picture of the REAL Pope (JPII) – somewhere in the house. *Bonus: I touched his grave in the Vatican crypt this last month. Was wonderful.
You collect “prayer cards” from funerals and Priest ordinations and from a priest who goes the extra mile (like my BFF does) having them available at Reconciliation (aka Confession) Services.
Your parents have at least one Crucifix with the Corpus on it mounted on a wall in their house with palms tucked behind it.
Your church’s main fundraiser each year is a Parish Picnic or a Turkey Shoot.
The word kielbasa means something to you. And you’ve bought wedding ring kielbasa.
Buying store-bought generic sausage is beneath you. Your favorite brands are either Pollacks’s or Wiatrek’s.
The names Kosciusko, Moczygemba, Dworaczyk, Dzuik, et.al.- roll off your tongue quite easily. *You would NEVER pronounce Kusciusko -‘Kahs – E – ahs-kO” as Oprah calls it…
You aren’t fully sure of the entire story behind the founding of the U.S., but you know the WHOLE STORY of the very FAMOUS Polish migration to the U.S. on Dec. 24, 1854 and…
Fr. Leopold Moczygemba is your founding Father. The Germans in New Braunsfels, TX were flourishing, so he hoped to do the same for his own kindred.
Your ancestors did not merely come to the US in a straight shot across the Atlantic to gain entry via Ellis Island in NY.
Your initial families came via a 60+ day sailboat ride in steerage to Galveston, TX. Then rented carts and/or walked 158 miles to Indianola, TX. to gain entry into the US. Then, embarked on another 108 MILES north to their new home in Panna Maria.
You may have never been to Poland, but if you do decide to visit, you know to go with the great travel guide Fr. Frank Kurzaj to ensure the royal treatment while there.
Now with the Eagle Ford oil boom, Dads no longer dream for their daughters to marry Ivy-leaguers, they want them to marry Janyseks. 🙂