Polish meaning of the holiday
What used to be a religious celebration of a Christian saint, Valentine, now has its central focus on other aspects. When the holiday came to Poland a few decades ago, it was already stripped of the spiritual element, and although it is still supposed to be about love and spending time with your significant other, some Poles are sceptical even about that. In Poland many people consider Valentine’s Day (or Walentynki in Polish) to be a commercial event, bridging the gap between Christmas and Easter. Nonetheless, many of us give in to celebrating it in a few small ways.
Cards or flowers?
The tradition of giving pink and red greeting cards on Valentine’s Day is very much present in Poland, although primarily among the young. Older Poles who decide to observe this holiday usually opt for a classic - a bouquet of roses, or sometimes more extravagant gifts, such as jewellery, underwear or perfume.
When it comes to the Polish business culture, Valentine's Day is practically non-existent, unlike in some other countries. Polish offices are not filled with balloons on 14 February and employees generally do not prepare anything special, but occasionally you may spot places where an extra jar of heart-shaped cookies is placed in your common dining area. If you are foreign and the lack of Polish Valentine's Day traditions seems a bit depressing, go ahead and introduce them to your colleagues, but try not to be too pushy about it. A nice set of greeting cards or a rose given to each of your female team-members can be a good start!
No matter if you celebrate Valentine's Day or not, try to be positive about it, after all it's only one day! However, if this extra attention on interpersonal relations distracts you from work, beware - Poles have their own holidays to come later in the year and they love celebrating them, even at work. The soonest one to arrive is the Women's Day on 8 March. As you can see, something is always going on in Polish households and offices!
Happy Valentines from CareersinPoland.com!