Many of the customs and traditions found herein are extinct even in today's Poland. World wars, massive immigration, the loss of the oral tradition, urbanization and politics have changed the face of a once agrarian people and their accompanying life style. In the U.S., the desire for membership within the "melting pot," marriages outside one's ethnic group, and movement to the suburbs away from the "old" communities where customs and traditions were once strong, further weakened the link. Although the purpose and meaning may have been lost and forgotten, the oczepiny ceremony (the unveiling) is still the mainstay of almost every wedding where the bride declares Polish heritage.
Many Polish American communities still reenact the harvest celebrations, reminding themselves of their ancestors' reverence for the grains and gifts of bread. Eight million Americans still claim their ancestry as Polish, many still diligently practicing that which they learned at their parents' and grandparents' knees. Much has also been neglected or completely forgotten.
About the author(s)
Sophie Hodorowicz Knab is a noted lecturer and writes a syndicated column on folklore. She lives in Grand Island, New York.
Rev. Czeslaw Krysa, who is Associate Professor at the SS. Cyril and Methodium Seminary in Orchard Lake, Michigan, is an authority on Polish folklore and winner of the Oskar Kolberg award in 1991, Poland's most prized award in ethnography and folklore.