Silesia. The ‚Land‘ of Food and Heavy Industry

Silesia is the smallest region in the Czech Republic. It is located near the Polish and Slovak borders.

Coming from this region myself, I have been raised in this environment and traditions. I am proud of coming from such an area. Moreover, it is very interesting experiencing new cultures and comparing those with your own.

  1. Industry

Silesia is one of the main industrial centers with the most polluted air in the whole Czech Republic. One of the local steelworks Třinecké Železárny is located in the small town of Třinec and produces more than a third of all steel in the Czech Republic. There are many more similar factories nearby. From a point of view, having these factories is good, as they offer many jobs. But on the other hand, as was mentioned above, air pollution is very high and causes some health problems for inhabitants living in this area.

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  1. Food

Regional cuisines and food are always a popular topic. Czech cuisine, in general, is famous for delicious, but very fatty meals. It mainly consists of meat dishes, dumplings, potatoes, creamy soups and sauces. Plus, if you have a granny who loves to cook for you (like I do), then it is not that easy to watch your weight.

In general, Silesians are afraid of being hungry or, even worse, not having enough food for guests. That is one of the reasons why our pantries are always full and hosts are always ready for unexpected visits. The grocery stores are opened from Monday to Sunday because you might run out of pickles on Sunday while expecting guests. Even a small Sunday visit or “a cup of tea at 5pm” consists of some sandwiches, a warm meal (soup or some kind of meat with bread or potatoes and pickles!!), followed by coffee and, of course, dessert.

Do not forget that we like to eat but also to drink quite a lot. The Czech Republic has the highest beer consumption per capita in the entire world! As mentioned above, casual visits on Sundays are always accompanied by beers and some shots – mainly vodka, rum or home distilled Slivovice. It may be a bit too much for other people, but for the locals it is a way to show their hospitality. On the other hand, it is not an insult to reject some of the offered food or shots (excepts if it is your granny who is offering). My French friend has recently experienced this while visiting me in Silesia: the casual visit at my grandparents’ house ended up with myself being stuffed with food and my French friend being drunk.

Last but not least, I would like to mention that these food and drink traditions are usually doubled or even tripled during weddings. A Silesian wedding may last up to 3 days! It usually starts on Saturday early in the morning. Around 9am the family of the groom/bride gathers together to have breakfast, but firstly they are welcomed by a big shot of Slivovice. Those who experience it for the first time might be slightly tipsy before the official ceremony at 12, so do not be afraid to politely say no. 🙂

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  1. Language

As I mentioned above, Silesia borders on Poland and Slovakia. Therefore, there is also a specific dialect that people from this region speak. It varies from part to part: the dialect of the area I come from, Těšínské Slezsko, is called Po naszymu (which literally means “in our own way”). It is a mixture of Czech, Polish and German. It is a pity that some people of the young generation nowadays are not able to speak it anymore, however they do understand it perfectly, as most of their grandparents or parents still use this dialect.

This dialect might sound like Polish to a stranger. However, if you talk in this dialect outside of Silesia, major misunderstandings could occur. Polish and Czech do come from the same Slavic language group but differ from each other. For example, people living in the south of the Czech Republic, in Prague or even just 30 kilometers away from our region, are not able to understand at all.

If you have ever studied German a bit, you will find some German words in the Po naszymu dialect as well. These expressions are mainly used in Austria, especially in the Viennese dialect. In the past, a lot of Czech builders and bricklayers used to live there, which is one of the reason why these words occur in both languages.

For example:

Czech Po naszymu German/Viennese Polish English
spíž špajska Speise spiżarnia pantry
Sako ancug Anzug garnitur suit
vlak cug Zug pociąg train
čišník kelner Kellner kelner waiter
žebřík drabina Leiter drabina ladder

 

If you are considering visiting the Silesian region, there are more things to do and see. You can also take a daily trip to Poland or Slovakia since it is very close. Do you want to visit 3 countries on 1 day? That is no problem in Silesia.

 

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