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Turning down an alcoholic toast in a Polish home

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Penang
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Turning down an alcoholic toast in a Polish home

Greetings,

Will be visiting Gdansk sometime in April and have been invited to spend a few days in our Polish friend's home.

Just in case if alcoholic drinks are offered, is it alright to just say no thanks?

Some people say it's very rude and disrespectful to the host if one refuses a drink. How can I politely inform the host that I cannot drink due to health issues? Should I just hold up my glass, toast and then pretend to take a sip?

Thanks

Warsaw, Poland
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1. Re: Turning down an alcoholic toast in a Polish home

Yes, it is OK to say no thanks. I do not like the taste of alcohol and have never had a issue with declining it. Also, it is not that alcohol is a must in Polish homes when it comes to receiving guests. You may get an offer of just tea or coffee. No alcohol.

Gdansk, Poland
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2. Re: Turning down an alcoholic toast in a Polish home

Hi,

Of, course you can say thanks I don't drink alcohol and you are not obliged to give any reason.

You can ask for mineral water or juice for toast.

Have a nice time

Malgorzata

Penang
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3. Re: Turning down an alcoholic toast in a Polish home

Thank you for replying.

Now I don't have to worry about offending anyone by refusing a vodka.

But when it comes to tasting Polish food, I will certainly not refuse anything. Bring on the zurek, pierogi and kotlet schabowy!

Vadnais Heights...
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4. Re: Turning down an alcoholic toast in a Polish home

One method of avoiding alcohol without ruining a traditional toast (and what follows) is to accept the vodka and pretend to go though the complete ceremony without swallowing and push the drink aside and ask for water or juice later. This completes the traditional ceremony (almost) and respects the tradition without creating a problem and most people respect that.

I traveled to Poland and Russia 6 or 7 times and learned very quickly. In Russia and also in many other countries, you never shake hands in a doorway - It is just a matter of respect of local traditions.

Dick

Penang
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5. Re: Turning down an alcoholic toast in a Polish home

Hi Dick,

That was my original plan: Accept the vodka but pretend to drink.

But now, most likely I will sip a tiny little bit to avoid being frowned upon and messing up centuries old traditional customs.

Thanks too for the shaking hands in a doorway warning.

Regards

Krakow, Poland
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for Krakow
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6. Re: Turning down an alcoholic toast in a Polish home

It's perfectly acceptable to ask for a soft drink for a toast and be seen to drink it. It's considered far ruder to take a shot and pretend to drink it - in effect you're not drinking the toast and believe me, it will be noticed!

Vadnais Heights...
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7. Re: Turning down an alcoholic toast in a Polish home

If you at at a friend's home it is not rude to refuse accept an alcoholic beverage. If you are in general or business setting, pretending and then switching over will not be a problem.

Dick

Warsaw, Poland
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for Warsaw
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8. Re: Turning down an alcoholic toast in a Polish home

Shaking hands at the doorway... Not at the doorway, but over a doorstep. It's more a kind of not-too-serious superstition, not a tradition. And it's not treated seriously... Just don't be surprised when a Pole you shake hands with (over a doorstep) smiles at you, makes a step back, or says "oh, not over a doorstep". Don't worry about it.

Regarding pretending, guys, it's all depends whom you meet:

1. On a private visit, you should never be afraid to refuse a drink to your hosts. Just cover the top of the glass with your hand and say "thank you". Or don't drink whatever is in your glass... they will not refill :)

2. For the business meetings... there are some occasions and types of people you meet when ... you will simply make no business with them if you don't drink (and compete against someone who does). Pretty rare these days, but does happen, especially in small business environment and with the older generation people.

3. We have an idiom "Nie wylewać za kołnierz" - not to pour the drink under your collar (literally translated). Meaning drinking seriously (just imagine :) It's about pretending :) Some other hints include

- keeping water in your glass (many will not notice), just in case. Same case with blackcurrant juice - if it's about wine. The trick is that your peers shouldn't notice that :) This is particularly useful when your peers are drunk already... although it is no fun to be sober in such a company and you will be tempted to leave :)

- raise a toast with a soft drink. Just smile :) when you do it and don't treat it too seriously.

- a good idea is to drink wine!!! I hate vodka, but i do drink wine.

One general remark: don't worry too much. It's all about fun .

Wroclaw, Poland
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9. Re: Turning down an alcoholic toast in a Polish home

I don't know anyone who would feel offended when you refuse to drink alcohol at a party or meeting. People here do know that not all people want or can drink. I think being honest from the start is better than pretending to drink a toast - this may offend hosts who would think that you didn't like the vodka they offered.

Some older people may sometimes want to try to change your mind by telling you how good vodka is etc. Turning it down also won't offend anyone, really. Just smile a lot and don't get angry.

10. Re: Turning down an alcoholic toast in a Polish home

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