As I was reading the article, I didn’t know that October is Polish American heritage month. (I missed this) I never knew this…. I was and decidedly am interested in my polish background.
First off, I never knew that the word “Polack” is a mangling of the polish word Polak, which means a polish male person and is considered an ethnic slur. Since I could remember, My mom would loosely toss the word “Polack” around, such as; she is being a Polack. I thought it meant a person that was stubborn.
- First immigrants to Jamestown, Pa., in 1619,
- The second immigrants of polish came between 1860 and during world war 1.
- The third and largest wave lasted from the end of the world war 1 to the end of the cold war. (This is when my Great-Grandparents came to America.)
- Today, There are an estimated 10-15 million Americans of Polish descent.
- Polish Americans are the largest Slavic ethnic group in the United States.
In the 20th century, Polish Americans can be found in Pennsylvania, New York, Illinois, Ohio, and Michigan.
Lopata (1976) would say that the poles were not like most ethnic groups in America. First, they did not plan to remain in the States and become “Americanized.” Instead, they thought that this would be temporary and they would go back. They wanted to earn money, invest, and wait for the right opportunity to return. However, many decided to stay and become Americans.
Many poles found jobs in the coal mines of Pennsylvania and the heavy industries, Such as; steel mills, iron foundries, slaughterhouses, oil and sugar refineries. Poles lived and worked in Chicago, Pittsburgh, Detroit, Buffalo, Milwaukee, Cleveland, and Toledo.
The largest Polish American population can be found in Chicago. Chicago has a population of 185,000 polish speakers and calls itself the largest Polish city outside of Poland.
In Pennsylvania, the cities and towns that have the most polish Americans are in Wilkes-barre, Hazleton, Doylestown, Scranton, Pittston, Philly, Pittsburgh, and Nanticoke.
Poland is mainly Roman Catholic; but, has had a small Muslim population since the 14th century, when Tatar tribes began settling in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. A group of polish Muslims who emigrated to the U.S. co-founded the first Muslim organization in Brooklyn in 1907 and in 1926, built a mosque that is still in use today.
Famous Polish Americans:
- Kristen Bell
- Scarlett Johansson
- Martha Stewart
- Jared Padalecki
- Natalie Portman
- Pope John Paul II
- The Warner brothers
- Roman Polanski
Polish Americans that discovered/ founded:
- Albert Abraham Michelson was the first American to receive the Nobel Prize in the sciences for his work on measuring the speed of light.
- Marie Curie was the first women to win twice the Nobel prize, the only person to win a Nobel prize in two sciences.
- Curtis Sliwa founded the Guardian Angels. Ruth Handler co-founded the Mattel toy company and created the Barbie doll.
- Leo Gerstenzang invented the Q-tip.
- Henryk Magnuski invented the walkie-talkie
- Casimir Zeglen invented the first bulletproof vest
- Jozef kosacki invented the mine detector
Polish people that aren’t Americans, but still are special:
- Werner Ryszard Kirchner, 1918, Poland, discovered rocket fuel
- Mieczyslaw Grzegorz Bekler, 1905, discovered lunar roving vehicle.
- Eugeniusz Lachocki, 1921, discovered the hologram.
- Jacek Rafat Karpinski, 9.04.1927, turyn, Poland, discovered the computer 8MB memory in 1969.
- stefan pierikowski in 1883, Poland, discovered the fluorescent lamp.
- institute of high-pressure physics in Poland discovered the blue ray.
- Jan Szczepanik in 1897 in Poland, discovered the television.
- Poland has the most winners of the “world’s strongest man” title.
- Jan Szczepanik and Kazimierz Zeglen, Poland, discovered the bulletproof
Wigilia, the traditional polish Christmas eve dinner, begins when the first evening star appears. 12 meatless courses are served after a white wafer called the Oplatek is broken and shared among the diners while they exchange good wishes. At dinner, there is an even number of people at the table to ensure good health, with one empty chair reserved anyone who happens to stop by. By tasting the 12 courses, it ensures good luck in the new year. After the dinner, Christmas carols are sung in polish by family and friends. Lastly, the family and friends go to midnight mass called Pasterka.Polka wasn’t invented in Poland, it originated in Bohemia. The name comes from the Czech word pA ‘lka (“little half,” in reference to the half-steps in the polka dance). The spelling is the same as the Czech polka, which means “Polish woman.”
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