In the last two years I’ve had the privilege of attending two weddings. Both were traditional Catholic Polish affairs, complete with rituals and words I’d never heard or experienced before. I am grateful for the experiences.
I also had time to reflect on some life lessons that folks should know. Some, like #2, were new to me. Others were not. When you’re listening to Polish and don’t speak it, you have lots of time to think :). I hope this brief list is helpful to someone. If nothing else, it is a good way to get my End of Year/New Year yayas out.
If you’re invited somewhere, eat and drink what is served. This is not a debate, you are a guest, be a gracious one. If you have religious or health issues eat what you can and be quiet. If you don’t like something either don’t eat it or taste it out of politeness to the chef. You may even discover that you like it.
If you ever get to design a cathedral, use lots of crosses. Crosses are the Hidden Mickeys of the Christian world.
If you’re ever “trapped” somewhere, like a bus, plane or airport, and the guy next to you starts to talk and the offers to buy you a drink. Shut up, listen, and drink. Life is about to get interesting.
Green is probably the best event theme color. Plants and garnishes are easily available to support your theme. Also, in some places, money is green.
When you’re handed a glass for a toast, never drink it all unless everyone else does. There may be a follow up. Don’t be empty glass guy. The same goes for “crackers” to be shared ala “Christmas Wishes” or at Passover.
Speaking of “Christmas Wishes,” if you aren’t familiar the custom, it involves a thin cracker roughly the size of a box of cigarettes. You share this with another person by having them break off a piece of your cracker and eat it while you wish them pleasant things for Christmas (typically health, happiness, etc.). When you have exchanged wishes with everyone you consume the balance of your cracker. This activity encourages you to actively think about what is required for a happy life and to encourage it in others.
I also believe this tradition is designed to teach one to live modestly and to act with generosity. The reason I believe this is that that cracker is dry and tasteless. It is not a pleasant eating experience. Modesty is taught because you want to minimize how much cracker you have to eat. Therefore you will only take tiny portions of everyone else’s cracker. This also causes you to act generously buy holding your cracker in such a way that others break off large pieces which they will be forced to consume.