Kołtun means a matted lump of hair, the result of dirt and the refusal to use a comb, usually accompanied by lice. Its name comes from kiełtanie się, i.e. the swinging motion of the tangled hair. Formerly quite universal, in the West, it vanished much earlier than in Poland, although the average European of the Baroque era and the Enlightenment carefully avoided washing his hair. The kołtun thus affected everyone, regardless of their status and origin, but usually occurred among the peasants. The invaluable Jędrzej Kitowicz claimed: ‘Kołtony are to be found in the whole of Poland, are quite frequent in Lithuania, and are encountered most often in the Duchy of Mazovia, especially among the peasantry ( …) to such an extent (…) that two out of three peasant heads feature the kołtun’. The kołtun assumed different shapes: ‘slight, thick, single, resembling a cap, divided into strings, smooth or knotty at the ends’.

Initially, the kołtun was not associated with the lack of personal hygiene, and it was believed that it was a symptom of rheumatism. The cause of this misfortune was sought predominantly among witches, especially Polish ones, as confirmed by the Latin name of this affliction - plica polonica, and its German version– Weichselzopf (since it was encountered most often in Poland, along the banks of the Vistula). The presence of a kołtun supposedly produced ‘inflammation of the bones, aversion to food, bad eyesight’, and sometimes even ‘vomiting’.  It was believed that simply cutting off this malodorous bunch of hair was extremely hazardous and could result in blindness, deafness, insanity, bleeding and even death caused by convulsions. Those brave enough to perform this act were thus scarce. The few who decided to take such a step and got better without any horrible consequences donated their ‘nails’ to churches to protect themselves against the revenge of the kołtun. As late as the early nineteenth century Polish physicians believed that pregnant women have a natural predisposition towards the kołtun, while young men suffering from it were excused from serving in the tsarist army.

Fortunately, not all medical doctors regarded the kołtun to be a disease. William Dawson (c. 1593-1669), Scottish physician, chemist, botanist, and court musician of Jan Kazimierz Vasa and his wife, Ludwika Maria Gonzaga, proved to be extremely progressive for his times. He fearlessly cut kołtuns off and advised combing and frequent washing of the hair. A similar attitude was represented in the early eighteenth century by Tobiasz Kohn. ln 1862, Professor Józef Dietl (1804-1878), rector of the Jagiellonian University, finally put an end to the kołtun by proving its origin and the lack of any connections between cutting it off and illnesses.

The theme of the kołtun appeared extremely rarely in graphic art. Interesting examples include an unsigned Italian aquaforte showing a woman afflicted by this condition: a thick and long kołtun, resembling a boa constrictor, slides down her back [see top image]. The engraving, possibly by Felicita Sartori (d. 1760 in Dresden), illustrated Thomas Salmon’s Lo stato presente di tutti paesi, e popoli del mondo, naturale, politico, e morale, published in volume 7 about the Commonwealth of Two Nations (1739), part of the 26 volumes printed in Venice in 1734-1766.” (source)

"Larry Wolff in his book Inventing Eastern Europe: The Map of Civilization on the Mind of Enlightenment mentions that in Poland for about a thousand years some people wore the hair style of the Scythians. Zygmunt Gloger in his Encyklopedia staropolska mentions that Polish plait was worn as a hair style by some people of both genders in the Pinsk region and the Masovia region at the beginning of the 19th century. He used the term ‘koltun zapuszczony’ which denotes artificial formation of Polish plait, forms of dreadlocks. According to the folklore studies of today, the forming of dreadlocks was done using liquids or wax. Among liquids a mixture of wine and sugar was used, or washing hair every day with water in which herbs were boiled. The most commonly used herb was Vinca, (Vinca major) followed by Lycopodium clavatum and moss, which caused matting of hair and formation of dreadlocks. A similar effect can be had by rubbing hair with wax, or inserting piece of a candle at the hair ends. Newer Polish dictionaries mention plica as a disease, but the old ones still mention artificially created plicas also.” (source)

"In the folklore archives of [the Ethnographic Museum in Toruń] we can find testimony from the people of Pomorze [Pomerania] which describe the purpuseful formation of the kołtun in the 1950s and 60s for healing purposes.  Małgorzata Trzcińska, a nurse from Tuchola, came across several instances of people believing that a kołtun had the power to heal by absorbing a person’s illness in the villages of Bory Tucholskie.  According to them cutting off the kołtun too early could result in ‘pokręcenie całego człowieka’ [the twisting of the whole person].  Some practices went as so far as to recommend wrapping one’s head in cow excrement and a wool shawl to aid in the formation process.  Trzcińska referred to a specific case of a young man who was diagnosed with tuberculosis of the bones [osseous tuberculosis] whose mother refused to let his kołtun be cut off until a serious medical intervention was done (this took place in 1953).  Kornelia Januszewska from Kaszub also writes about the kołtun, ‘Years ago people living in ignorance and superstition were stricken with various strange maladies.  They sought help from witches, or sometimes priests.  They cultivated kołtuns because they believed their illness would settle itself there and at the apporiate time the kołtun can be cut off and the illness will be banished with it.’" (source)

Images:

Italian aquaforte showing a woman afflicted by a thick and long kołtun.

The longest – 1.5-meter long – preserved Polish plait, in the History of Medicine Museum in Kraków (19th century).

An example of a kołtun at the Ethnographic Museum in Toruń.

Further Reading:

  • Bystroń Jan Stanisław, Dzieje obyczajów w dawnej Polsce. Wiek XVI–XVIII, t. 1, PIW, Warszawa 1976.
  • Dobrzycki Henryk, O kołtunie pospolicie „plica polonica” zwanym, Drukarnia Emila Skiwskiego, Warszawa 1877.
  • Gloger Zygmunt, Kołtun, [w:] Encyklopedia staropolska, t. 3, Drukarnia P. Laskauera i S-ki, Warszawa 1902, s. 63–64.
  • Hercules Saxonia Patavini, De plica quam Poloni Gwoźdźiec, Roxolani Kołtunum vocant, Drukarnia Lorenzo Pasquato, Padwa 1600.
  • Krček Franciszek, Kołtun lekiem, „Lud. Organ Towarzystwa Ludoznawczego we Lwowie”, t. 5 (1899), nr 4, s. 377.
  • Kuchowicz Zbigniew, Obyczaje staropolskie XVII–XVIII wieku, Wydawnictwo Łódzkie, Łódź 1975.
  • Łempicki Stanisław, Działalność Jana Zamoyskiego na polu szkolnictwa 1573–1605, Skład główny w Książnicy Polskiej w Warszawie, Warszawa 1922.
  • Marczewska Marzena, Kiedy choroba była gościem – o językowym obrazie kołtuna w przekazach ludowych, [w:] Współczesna polszczyzna w badaniach językoznawczych, t 3, Od języka w działaniu do leksyki, red. Zbróg Piotr, Instytut Filologii Polskiej. Uniwersytet Humanistyczno-Przyrodniczy Jana Kochanowskiego, Kielce 2011, s. 87–108.
  • Morewitz Harry A., A Brief History of Plica Polonica, [w:] Nuvo® for Head Lice, 1 marca 2008, [dostęp: 27 lutego 2014], <[“”:http://nuvoforheadlice.com/Plica.htm]>.
  • Udziela Marian, Medycyna i przesądy lecznicze ludu polskiego: przyczynek do etnografii polskiej, Skład główny w księgarni M. Arcta, Warszawa 1891.
  • Widlicka Hanna, Plica polonica czyli kołtun polski, [w:] Strona internetowa Muzeum Pałacu Króla Jana III w Wilanowie, [dostęp: 27 lutego 2014], <http://www.wilanow-palac.pl/plica_polonica_czyli_koltun_polski.html>.
  • Wraxall Nathaniel William, Wspomnienia z Polski 1778, [w:] Polska stanisławowska w oczach cudzoziemców, oprac. Zawadzki Wacław, t. 1, Warszawa 1963.

*I created this post due to a consistent presence of the question of cultural appropriation in relation to hairstyles, particularly dreadlocks.  The Polish kołtun is considered a type of dreadlock, but its reflection in today’s hairstyle trends among various groups depends on the interpretation of its history and cultural significance.  The above information is meant to give a rather general explanation for why this phenomenon was practiced intentionally vs. its natural occurrence among Poles throughout history.  Take from it what you will, but keep in mind that proper respect should be given to each culture at all times, regardless of a personal agenda or the desire to substantiate a particular behavior.  If objections exist to a behavior or custom I find it best to listen with consideration to the people who voice them, since often they are rooted in traditions, rituals, and customs with deep meaning and significance to people who practice them.

The Easter Basket (święconka)

Every year millions of Poles attend a blessing of the Easter baskets on Wielka Sobota - Holy Saturday, the second-to-last day of Holy Week.  Although this ritual has been known in Poland for centuries it was virtually unknown to the modern Western region until after the Second World War, when these lands officially became part of the nation.  In the Kashubian region only wealthy land owners and nobility sent for the local priest to come and bless the table.  Likewise, this tradition did not reach Silesian homes until recent years. 

Traditionally a number of items have found their way into the baskets, each symbolizing important aspects of life:

  • Eggs (pisanki), decorated and hard-boiled they symbolize life, fertility, and rebirth.
  • Bread, which symbolizes the body of Christ, is included so that we may have a fulfilling and happy year.
  • Sausage and cold cuts which are tied to the Lamb of God, good health, prosperity, and fertility.
  • A ceramic lamb (traditionally these have been made from sugar or butter as well), also symbolizing the Lamb of God.
  • Salt, the symbol of truth and purity as well as protection against evil.
  • Cheese, the symbol of humanity’s relationship with nature.
  • Horseradish symbolizing strength.
  • A babka (sweet yeast cake) that symbolizes skill and excellence.

Other commonly included items are yellow baby chicks, a branch of fresh bukszpan (buxus), flowers, chocolate, and any other items which will be shared during Easter Sunday breakfast.  

Images: [x][x][x][x][x][x]

Dziady śmigustne are hay-wrapped monsters which traditionally make an appearance on the night of Easter Sunday in the southern Małopolska region.  With their faces covered by fur masks or blackened stockings, the dziady make their way through town asking for “gifts” by grunting, gesturing, and using noisemakers.  They also splash their victims with water, a ritual which is commonly done on the Monday following Easter all over Poland, called Śmigus-Dyngus. 

The tradition of dziady śmigustne originated in Dobra, near Limanowa, and is tied to a legend which tells the story of prisoners taken in by the Tatars, who escaped their captors.  The Tatars had cut out their tongues and slashed their faces so the escapees, dressed in rags and wrapped in hay, went looking for help from the people in the village of Dobra.  The villagers took them in, and as a reminder of this event the village was named Dobra - meaning ‘good’. 

Images: [x][x][x]

The Carpathian Troy Open-Air Museum is located in Trzcinica, in south-eastern Poland, in Podkarpackie Voivodeship, a few kilometres north-west of Jasło, on the Valley of the Ropa River.  The site where the open-air museum has been built is one of the most important archaeological sites in Poland with major importance for discovering the prehistory of Central-Eastern Europe. In the course of archaeological works, particularly the ones carried out since 1991 by Jan Gancarski, over 160 000 artefacts have been unearthed here. The collection comprises pottery vessels, items made of clay, flint and stone, bone and horn as well as bronze and iron. Many of them are unique, considered to be fabulous pieces of prehistoric art and craft.

Carpathian Troy

One of the earliest strongly fortified settlements known in Poland, dated to the beginnings of the Bronze Age, has been discovered in Trzcinica. It was built as early as over 4000 years ago! Furthermore, it was here where the first settlement of the Otomani-Füzesabony culture has been discovered in Poland. The culture was found to have been under strong Mediterranean influences and is dated to 1650-1350 BC. Taking into consideration the importance of the discovery, chronology and obvious south European influences, the site was called ‘the Carpathian Troy’.

Royal Earthworks

Over 2000 years after the fall of the Carpathian Troy the site was inhabited by the Slavs. They erected a large settlement of 3 hectares of land, surrounded with monumental earthworks which nowadays, in some parts, are still as high as 10 meters. This is exactly the site which is often called ‘Royal Earthworks’. The hillfort is dated to 770-1020 AD. There have been a few tens of thousands of Slavic artifacts discovered on the site including a hoard of silver items which contained a famous trimming from a sword-scabbard - a masterpiece of early medieval craft.

Unique fusion

The Carpathian Troy Open-Air Museum - a branch of Subcarpathian Museum in Krosno - has been built in Trzcinica in order to protect the hillfort and make it available for tourists. The originator of the idea of building of an open-air museum in Trzcinica is Jan Gancarski – the director of the Subcarpathian Museum. The Carpathian Troy is an original fusion of a traditional form of an open-air museum with a modern museum institution. The whole complex consists of the hillfort and an archaeological park located at the foot of it. There are over 150 meters of reconstructed earthworks, 2 gateways (the first one dated to the beginnings of the Bronze Age, the other to the early medieval times) and 6 cottages. In the archaeological park there are 2 reconstructed villages - the village of the Otomani culture and an early medieval village. A modern exhibition pavilion is situated here as well. It comprises spacious exhibition hall, functional conference room, multimedia lecture room for students, cosy ‘Room of a Small Discoverer’ for the youngest guests, and eating area where the cuisine based on the ‘art of cooking’ performed by our ancestors will be offered. All that, enriched with an attractive cultural programme and unique atmosphere, guarantees that a good time will be had by all visitors.” (source)

Images

The Jewish Cemetery on Bracka street in Łódź
The first Jewish Cemetery in Łódź was established in 1811 on Wesoła street.  In the 1950s the location of the cemetery was converted into a housing complex.  Today its existence is marked by a stone obelisk erected in 2004 through an initiative put forth by the city president, Dr. Jerzy Kropiwnicki. 
The Bracka street cemetery was established in 1892.  An estimated 160,000 people are buried within its grounds, which stretch over an area of 98 acres, making it one of the largest Jewish cemeteries in Europe.  Over the course of its existence it became the final resting place to many prominent members of the Jewish community who were instrumental in the development of the city over the course of its history.  Rabbis, factory owners, doctors, politicians, and activists are among the many buried there.  Their monuments are often works of art in stone.
The cemetery is also a place of rest for the victims of one of the greatest tragedies in human history - the Holocaust.  In the section of the cemetery know as the “Ghetto Field” about 43,000 victims of the Łódź Ghetto are buried, who died as the result of disease and starvation.  Their graves are rarely marked by a matzeva.  In an attempt to restore the cemetery and the memory of its inhabitants a foundation was established.  In spite of other restorative work being done at the cemetery, the “Ghetto Field” section was a top priority, so that the living descendants of those who perished could properly mark the resting place of their loved ones.  The section itself became a kind of war memorial. (source)

Ojczyzna

Ojczyzna moja - to ta ziemia droga,
Gdziem ujrzał słońce i gdziem poznał Boga,
Gdzie ojciec, bracia i gdzie matka miła
W polskiej mnie mowie pacierza uczyła.

Ojczyzna moja - to wioski i miasta,
Wśród pól lechickich sadzone od Piasta,
To rzeki, lasy, kwietne niwy, łąki,
Gdzie pieśń nadziei śpiewają skowronki.

Ojczyzna moja - to praojców sława,
Szczerbiec Chrobrego, cecorska buława,
To duch rycerski, szlachetny a męski,
To nasze wielkie zwycięstwa i klęski.

Ojczyzna moja - to te ciche pola,
Które od wieków zdeptała niewola,
To te kurhany, te smętne mogiły -
Co jej swobody obrońców przykryły.

Ojczyzna moja - to ten duch narodu,
Co żyje cudem wśród głodu i chłodu,
To ta nadzieja, co się w sercach kwieci,
Pracą u ojców, a piosnką u dzieci!

— Maria Konopnicka

Powstanie styczniowe - January Uprising was an uprising in the former Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth (present-day Poland, Lithuania, Belarus, Latvia, parts of Ukraine, and western Russia) against the Russian Empire. It began on 22 January 1863 and lasted until the last insurgents were captured in 1865.

The uprising began as a spontaneous protest by young Poles against conscription into the Imperial Russian Army. It was soon joined by high-ranking Polish-Lithuanian officers and various politicians. The insurrectionists, severely outnumbered and lacking serious outside support, were forced to resort to guerrilla warfare tactics. They failed to win any major military victories or capture any major cities or fortresses, but their call for national unity, and the program of granting land to peasants led to the elimination of szlachta privileges. Reprisals against insurgents included the Tsar’s abolition of serfdom that granted land at low value and was designed to draw support of peasants away from the Polish nation and disrupt the national economy. Public executions and deportations to Siberia led many Polish to abandon armed struggle and turn instead to the idea of ‘organic work’: economic and cultural self-improvement.”  Read More

Images:

Allegorical composition depicting a panoply of Polish and Lithuanian coats of arms with the text, “Freedom Equality Unity Independence” at the top and “God help those faithful to the fatherland.”

Marian Langiewicz, Polish military leader and one of three dictators of the January Uprising.

Józef Śmiechowski, Polish general of the January Uprising.

Stefan Bobrowski, participant in the January Uprising and a member of the Central National Committee (Komitet Centralny Narodowy) and the Provisional National Government (Tymczasowy Rząd Narodowy).

Dob Beer Meisels, Chief Rabbi of Kraków and later of Warsaw, active supporter of the January Uprising and its insurgents. 

Zygmunt Padlewski, one of the leaders of the “Red” faction among the insurrectionists as a member of the Central National Committee (Komitet Centralny Narodowy) and the Provisional National Government (Tymczasowy Rząd Narodowy).

Anna Pustowójtówna, participant of the January Uprising under Marian Langiewicz. She disguised herself as a man and went by the alias Michał Smok.

An Imperial Russian Army camp on Saski square in Warsaw.

A group of Kosynierzy (Scythe-men) who took part in the January Uprising. 

A tribute to prominent Poles for their service to the fatherland.

Dziwicie się Kacperek, że nie ma dla was premii? Przypomnijcie sobie!
Na pochodzie pierwszomajowym toście nieśli portret towarzysza Bieruta, a na ramieniu jakiegoś kundla. A jak powiedziałem ‘Kacperek, rzućcie to bydlę!’ to coście rzucili?

Joke from the People’s Republic of Poland (PRL).

Eng:  “You’re surprised, Kacperek, that you’re not getting a bonus?  Try and remember!  During the May 1st March you were carrying a portrait of comrade Bierut, and some mutt on your shoulder.  And when I said, ‘Kacperek, drop that beast!’ what did you drop?”

Massacre on Szeroka Street, October 28th, 1943 

In 2013 the city of Kraków held a memorial service to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the murder of 30 Polish hostages by the occupying German forces.  The group included members of Szare Szeregi “Alicja” platoon, young men and teenage boys who were taken from Montelupich prison where they were brought during random street round-ups.  Their public execution was in retaliation for the killing of several high-ranking Nazi officials in Kraków.  The thirty men and boys were executed via firing squad by the Old Synagogue in the Kazimierz district.  In 1947 eye-witness Leon W. Szewczyk testified about the crime:

A small Gestapo vehicle came, followed by a canvas-covered truck.  We were standing opposite the Synagogue.  A small gate led to its courtyard.  The car stopped in front of that gate…  A member of the Gestapo approached the car - at this moment 10 people got out.  They led them to the courtyard through the gate towards the Synagogue…  A command was given and I heard gunshots.  As if through a fog I saw the second group of 10 leaving the truck.  Again, a command, shots, cries, and the victims yelling; ‘Jesus, Mary!’  All of a sudden three people ran past me.  Two men disappeared into Szeroka street, one fell when a bullet hit him, a few steps away from me.  I looked at him:  he was a young boy, in decent civilian clothing (not in prison garb like the others).  He was still alive, he tried to raise himself up.  But the Germans were vigilant…  After the execution one of the Gestapos, clearly drunk, made rounds among the executed and fired shots into them.  He also approached the boy lying in the street - he rolled back his collar and shot him in the back of the neck.

An obelisk was erected at the site of the execution to commemorate this event.  One thing, however, has been missing for years:  the names of those who perished there.  The task of establishing their exact identities was made difficult because of the fact that in 1943 a total of 260 Poles were (officially) executed in Kraków - the names were on two separate lists and it was difficult to establish who was executed in which location.  On February 6th, 1940, Governor-General of occupied Poland’s ‘General Government’ Hans Frank told the Völkischer Beobachter newspaper, “If I wanted to hang posters about the execution of every seven Poles, there would not be enough forests in Poland to produce the paper for these posters.”  Those killed on Szeroka street were transported to the Płaszów concentration camp and burned in the open air.  Still, to this day, people carry a memory of these events and some even visited the memorial regularly, leaving scraps of paper with the names of the few known victims.  In 2012 a list of names was released, and subsequently etched into the memorial stone.  They were:

Tadeusz Anioł-Zagórski, Franciszek Baraniuk “Schulze” (Szare Szeregi, “Alicja”), Adam Doraszczak (Dorowczak?), Zdzisław Dółka “Żelazny”, Emil Dziedzic, Feliks Gajewski, Józef Gawęda, Piotr Grudzicki (Grudziecki?), Tadeusz Homa, Arkadiusz Jaguś “Mefisto” (Szare Szeregi, “Alicja”), Feliks Jener, Henryk Jurkiewicz, Stanisław Kaczyński, Mieczysław Kossek (Szare Szeregi, “Alicja”), Józef Krawczyk, Władysław Kurta-Gukański, Stanisław Miedzik, Roman Pasternak, Zdzisław Pasternak, Franciszek Podsiadło, Mieczysław Sroka, Wincenty Strzemiński, Eugeniusz Stuś “Szatan”, Władysław Szczurek (Szare Szeregi, “Alicja”), Mieczysław Szczucki, Józef Ścisło, Władysław Toluczek, Zbigniew Wojakowski, Roman Zaręba. 

Pokój ich duszom.

Sources: [x][x][x][x]

Film posters in Poland, 1960s

Walet karowy (Jack of Diamonds) dir: Don Taylor, 1967

Polowanie na muchy (Hunting Flies) dir: Andrzej Wajda, 1969

Kalejdoskop (Kaleidoscope) dir: Jack Smight, 1966

Miłość i jazz (Ola & Julia) dir: Jan Halldoff, 1967

Przez pustynię (Rage) dir: Gilberto Gazcón, 1966

Czekając na życie (Poor Cow) dir: Kenneth Loach, 1967

Delegat floty (Deputat Baltiki) dir: Josif Chejfic, Aleksandr Zarkhi, 1937

Ruchomy cel (Harper) dir: Jack Smight, 1966

Kronika nurkującego bombowca (Khronika pikiruyushchego bombardirovshchika) dir: Naum Birman, 1967

Cała naprzód (All Ahead) dir: Stanisław Lenartowicz, 1966

Tea in the People’s Republic of Poland

Poland is a nation of tea drinkers.  We all know that wódeczka is the beverage of choice when people think of Poland and our neighbors, but herbatka has sustained us through turbulent times, ever since it found its way to the average citizen through the Russian border.  During the years Poland was a satellite state of the Soviet Union tea reigned supreme as the most popular, non-alcoholic beverage, and the following article is a great little taste of tea in the People’s Republic of Poland.

"Tea.  It’s served in the morning, after lunch, and during dinner.  We could say that it has accompanied Poles during any convenient occasion.  Next to coffee, tea is the most popular alcohol-free beverage in modern Poland.  Today we can find many of its varieties in stores including more exotic blends such as yerba mate.  There is also no shortage of tasteful tea pots and tea cups made especially for drinking tea.  So how did tea drinking look before; what place did it have in the People’s Republic of Poland (PRL)?  

During the epoch of communism, tea reigned supreme - it was enjoyed at home and in restaurants.  In the category of non-alcoholic drinks it had no competition, especially since its prime rival, coffee, was a luxury difficult to find and rather expensive.  Interestingly Poles do not associate tea with China or Japan where it originated, but with Russia.  It was through this region that tea made its way into the homes of average people.  Prior to that it was only found in manor houses and homes of wealthy nobility and urbanites.  The word “czaj” [чай] comes from the Russian language and is used to describe tea even today, particularly in Eastern Poland. 

Since tea was widely available in the socialist system, it was promoted even through literature.  In works of socialist realism positive protagonists usually did not drink coffee, their leading drink was most often tea.  It’s apparent that communist propaganda was concerned with even such minute details.  In spite of the fact that tea was readily available, its quality was far below the best brands of that time, namely yunnan and madras.  The most popular types sold were popularna [popular] and gruzińska [Georgian].  Both were characterized by poor quality - they were a mixture of low-grade Chinese tea leaves.  The government had a monopoly on the best kinds of tea.  Only a few restaurants were legally permitted to serve English or Russian tea (including Warsaw’s Gong and Teinka from Łódź).  

In the workplace a different type of tea became widespread, affectionately referred to as “plujka” [spitter].  Drinking plujka at work was a common occurrence.  During the 1970s the government took a special interest in tea.  The Deputy Minister of Culture issued a regulation encouraging workers to drink tea.  For this occasion a special definition was established according to which the beverage “consisted of a dry portion and a wet portion.”  The purpose of tea in the workplace was “regeneration of the strength of the workforce.”  The tea situation looked different in restaurants and cafes.  The product served there was more so “tea-like”, and called express tea.  It was brewed using tea bags filled with waste products left over from the production of higher quality teas and served in plain glasses.  At home, tea was met with a greater amount of respect where rituals and traditions were observed.  People often met over a pot with tea essence [a very strong brew of tea which was added in small amounts to a tea cup with boiling water] to engage in long conversations.” 

— Mateusz Pietrzyk (source)

Images:

Various types of teas sold in the People’s Republic of Poland

A tea kettle for boiling water and a small tea pot for brewing essence (esencja).

Tea glass holders.

Tea glasses with plastic handles.

Musztardówka - a mustard container used for drinking tea when regular tea glasses were unavailable or difficult to find.