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What is the Polish Word for Grandma?

June 05, 2019 3 min read

Babcia And Busia The Words For Polish Grandmother

Grandma, Nana, Babushka. What do you call your Grandma? Babcia, a Polish grandmother holds a very dear place in the childhood of every Pole, so it’s only fair we learn more about her!

Polish Grandmother

The Polish name or term for grandma. We all know of the term Babushka, often used to describe elderly Slavic women, but it’s not a Polish word - apart from the dolls, or talking about the headscarf, this term is mostly known to describe a Russian grandmother and is not at all a Polish word for Grandmother. Nor are Busha or Busia although they tend to be used in the Polish-American variations of the Polish language.  

A Grandma in Polish is called Babcia (or Babunia, which is used more dearly), and she has an important role in a typical Polish family. Although Poles always appreciate the cooking of their own mothers, it is Babcia that you go to whenever you need to be comforted with foodor just the feeling of being loved. To Babicas, grandchildren never seem to grow up - they are always cared for as if they are still being children, in the most positive sense of this description.

The importance of grandmothers (and grandfathers) is recognized in Poland and is even a part of the Polish history, which is why they even have their own day of celebration in the calendar - it is the 21st of January (22nd being the Grandfather’s day). Grandmother’s Day has been introduced in 1964 and has been celebrated ever since. This is the day you pay a visit to your Grandma with flowers and some sweets - a child would create a homemade gift, usually a card or a product of a DYO craft. Some schools take the time to dedicate the day for grandmothers, by creating a special school event (a play for, example) or by helping children create their own presents. There are also numerous songs and rhymes that they sing or write down - or are motivated to create their own! Here is one you can use if you are thinking of celebrating the upcoming Grandmother’s Day: 

In Polish:
Wesołe słońce wesoło patrzy
i ciepły uśmiech posyła babci.
I ja też, Babciu, mam dziś dla Ciebie
uśmiech jak słonko jasne na niebie.

In English:
By the happy warmth's of the happy Sun,
Grandma is sent a warm smile,
And I too, dear Grandma, have for you,
A smile as bright as the Sun in the sky.

There are some funny stereotypes about having a Polish grandmother. They are more visible in Polish-American surroundings as they might seem quite uncommon, be you will discover you find most of them synonymous with all caring grandmothers. Here are some to put a smile on your face and make you shout out Babciu! (Grandma!) 

  • A Polish Babcia will always tell you to put on a jacket: even if it’s the middle of the summer. God forbid you catch a cold!
  • To a Polish Babcia, a sneeze is a sign that you should get in bed, call off all your engagements and rest for days until you get better - because a sneeze means you are ill!
  • A Polish Babcia will always make you wear slippers - because God forbid you catch a cold!
  • A Polish Babcia will always fear that you are going around hungry. For her, you are always too skinny - that’s why you have to clean your plate up when you visit her (and you will always be forced to eat a meal) and take with you a lunch box she will most definitely pack for you.
  • A Polish Babcia will keep telling you that you don’t call her enough. Even if you talk to each other twice a day. 

Now that you know a little bit more about Polish grandmothers, you can appreciate your own Babcia more, even if you’re not Polish. Be thankful for having them in your life and make sure that one day your grandchildren will love you so!

 


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