Young adult man smiles to camera, wearing black sweatshirt and baseball cap with Detroit logo on it.

Polish Records and Wafers

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By Tony Dombrowski

Young adult man smiles to camera, wearing black sweatshirt and baseball cap with Detroit logo on it.
Tony Dombrowski is a junior at Oakland University in Rochester Hills, Michigan, majoring in journalism with a digital media production minor. He is currently the Executive Board Operator for 88.3 FM WXOU.

Though I am a quarter Czechoslovakian from my mother’s side, along with an eighth German, Italian and Irish from my father’s side, I am half Polish from both of my parents.

Both of my great-great-grandparents from my mother’s and father’s side immigrated from Poland to Michigan.

I have never been to Poland, or met my great-great-grandparents to understand what Poland is like, but I have researched the country plenty of times to know the history and traditions. Some of the history and traditions from Poland are represented around Michigan that my family and I celebrate often.

Polka Restaurant and Beer Cafe, located in Troy, MI, offers polish-style cuisine in an atmosphere similar to that in Poland. It is a common dining spot for my family. Going there for a meal really gives you an understanding of the rich history and tradition of the country.

Front of Polka restaurant, some of the parking lot visible in front of it, a car parked in the center.
An older couple park their car and get ready to dine at the Polka Restaurant and Beer Cafe in Troy, Michigan, on Friday, Oct. 4, 2019. The restaurant, which embodies the culture, rich history and traditions from Poland, is still a popular dining destination today that hundreds of people visit each day.

One of the richest traditions in Poland that has been celebrated for numerous years and my family still celebrates each holiday season is the breaking of the Christmas wafer, or Oplatki in Polish. This tradition is done to wish you good health and happiness throughout the year. Though I didn’t know this was such a big tradition in Poland until a few years ago, it is one I always look forward to doing with my family every Christmas.

Light yellow and pink wafers in plastic cover, along with a Christian religious picture.
The Christmas wafer, or Oplatki in Polish, sits in my grandmother’s kitchen and prepares for celebration on Friday, Oct. 4, 2019 in Warren, Michigan. The Christmas wafer is a popular tradition the Polish culture still celebrates today and is said to be one of the richest in the Polish culture.

My grandmother on my mother’s side still has all of her mother’s old musical records from some of her favorite Polka bands from Poland. Polkas are a type of dance and music in the Polish culture that are still popular today. I know it means a lot for my grandmother to still have those records.

Close-up of record cover, yellow with red font that reads "Hello again from the Tempo Tones. Dee dot curt. Tempo Jones."
As my grandmother listens to her mother’s old Polka records on Friday, Oct. 4, 2019 in Warren, Michigan, she likes to look at the cover of the records and reminisce on memories with her family. The Polka is still considered a popular dance and genre of music for the Polish culture to this day.

Poland is a country filled with a rich history with a number of traditions my family and I cherish to this day. I am proud to have the Polish culture in my blood and I always enjoy celebrating that culture with my family.

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