By Ken, Teacher in Warsaw
Poland is a very interesting country with many interesting traditions and facts you may not know of. In this blog post I will be looking at a mixture of obscure and traditional things about Poland that may surprise you, both past and present. Starting off with weird fact numero uno…..
Poland has the biggest desert in Europe
Nope, not dessert, desert! This isn’t a typo!
Błędów Desert (known in Polish as Pustynia Błędowska), is an area of sands between Błędów and the villages of Chechlo and Klucze in Poland. It is also only 47 kilometres away from Kraków.
Currently only a third of the whole sand layer is covered in sand only. The rest of it is covered by plants. It is an attractive walking and horse riding area and also a magnificent natural phenomenon. In the desert, before and after the Second World War, there was a military training ground. Nowadays, the Polish army trains parachute jumpers in this area which can also be very spectacular for the tourists in the area.
The first woman to win the Nobel Prize was Polish
I’m sure you all know the wonderful woman that was Marie Curie, right? Many of you won’t think she is Polish going by her name, but her actual full name is Maria Salomea Skłodowska-Curie.
She was a famed Polish and French physicist and chemist who conducted pioneering research on radioactivity. She was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize, the first person to a Nobel Prize twice and also the only person to win a Nobel Prize in two scientific fields. Her husband, Pierre Curie, was a co-winner of her first Nobel Prize, making them the first-ever married couple to win the Nobel Prize. In 1906 she also became the first female professor at the University of Paris. Successful is an understatement!
Mikołajki (St Nicholas)
Since it’s almost Xmas at time of writing, let’s delve into a festive celebration in Poland.
But Ken, I hear you ask, this isn’t anything special you silly goose! We all know Santa Claus! Okay sure, BUT did you know that in days gone past Polish people didn’t “celebrate” Santa Claus on December 24th? In fact, they used to celebrate it on the 6th of December, a full 2 and a half weeks before their Western counterparts.Nowadays, they give gifts on BOTH the 6th and 24th/25th, meaning that kids get two days of gifts! On the 6th they tend to get a small gift, and then on the 24th they will get a bigger gift. Either way, they’re very lucky!
That viral NPC girl you might have seen
And now for something much more obscure and trendy.
First of all, an NPC for all you non-geeks is a Non-Playable-Character in a game. They are characterised by human-like movements but are there just for the story of the game and as you’ve probably guessed, you can’t play as them. Acting like an NPC on videos has become somewhat trendy, and none do it much better and more realistic than Loczniki (Loczek and NIki )who are a dancing couple from Poznan in Poland. They went viral in July 2022 for their video “date with an NPC” which sees Niki act like an NPC whilst abroad and doing normal things on a date like sightseeing and eating at a restaurant. At time of writing the video has over 25 million hits on YouTube, and overall their YouTube channel has well over 700 million views, so they’re not exactly unknown! They also do other videos where they mimic characters in games.
The last word(s)
So there you have it. Some interesting facts about Poland you probably didn’t know. I could’ve mentioned much more common things such as Robert Lewandowski, Malbork Castle (the biggest castle in the world), rising tennis star Herbert Hukacz and already massive tennis superstar Iga Swiątek, but I thought I’d try and give you more obscure things (and in the case of Mikołajki, more festive!). And of course, it wouldn’t be much fun if I told you everything interesting about Poland would it? Talk about spoilers! But one last fact – Famous astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus was born in Torun, Poland. We also have a tram station named after him amongst other things!