Embracing the Semi-Polish

I am half Polish. I grew up thinking my family embraced our Polish heritage because we ate sausage and did polkas at weddings. It took me quite a while and seeing how other people celebrate their own culture and customs to realize that my family was quite lazy at being Polish.


My parents at their quasi-Polish wedding almost 35 years ago

My great grandparents emigrated from Poland during a time where it wasn’t so hot to be Polish. My grandpa changed his family name, removing the -kowski, in order to Americanize himself and fit in. Diversity wasn’t valued then like it is now and I think that was a major reason my grandparents never taught me much about my heritage.

I don’t know any Polish words, I don’t know how to cook Polish foods, and I definitely have no clue where my family came from.

But us Midwestern Polish descendants, maybe even specifically Northwest Indiana Poles, have one wedding custom that I do know about: the everyone get in a circle around the couple and sing “Let Me Call You Sweetheart” while also randomly shouting “she’s still ours!” in Polish. What, that’s not a thing? Well it is in my family.

You see, I’ve looked everywhere on the internet for some indication this was a wedding tradition. Apparently the “Let Me Call You Sweetheart” serenade is usually reserved for sorority/frat sweethearts? Or something. I never went Greek so I do not understand these things.

As for the shouting in Polish part, it seems to have roots in a Midwestern Polish custom where the father says the phrase “Jescze nasza” and all of the men at the wedding form a circle around the bride and exchange dances, for a small fee.

So it seems my family mushed together some things and came up with the Let Me Call You/Jescze Nasza. Now all I have to do is try to explain this to my DJ.

While I’m sad I’ve missed out on a lot of Polish heritage, I will say one thing: I am so glad I don’t have to do the baby doll apron. If you’re trying to picture it and getting confused, no, you are in fact doing it right. It’s precisely an apron that has plastic baby dolls stapled to it. Not all Polish traditions need to be embraced!

What cultural traditions are you adopting, eschewing or reinventing?


Mrs. Ribbons

Washington D.C./Bloomington, IN
Wedding Date:
June 2010
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  1. Member
    nona49 452 posts, Helper bee @ 6:57 pm

    We’re doing wedding coins in the ceremony as a nod to my spanish heritage. We’re skipping the lasso–I thought it was a bit much :o) FI is an All-American boy (i.e. doesn’t know where his family originated).

  2. Member
    spaganya 2295 posts, Buzzing bee @ 7:12 pm

    we are doing the truce bell as a nod to our irish heritage :)

  3. Member
    kjpugs 1813 posts, Buzzing bee @ 7:15 pm

    We went to a wedding in NW Indiana (near Merrillville I think? Dyar?) And the place we went to for the reception? Whoamygosh SUPER polish. All the food, people working, everything. It was awesome!

  4. snow Member
    snow 875 posts, Busy bee @ 7:27 pm

    We’re so WASP-y that we have no significant traditions beyond the traditional wedding ceremony….we’re lame.

  5. octopus Member
    octopus 1439 posts, Bumble bee @ 8:23 pm

    Perhaps not traditionally Polish, but your “Let Me Call You Sweetheart” tradition sounds adorable and fun!!!

  6. Member
    vicarswifeintraining 579 posts, Busy bee @ 8:25 pm

    well we all intend to get painfully drunk because we are welsh … does that count?

    and we are doing a hora – a eastern european dance done spontaneously in eastern europe because I’m half Czech!

  7. Member
    tea 2414 posts, Buzzing bee @ 8:44 pm

    we’ll be doing a paebaek. my mom hasn’t seen one done before and she’s korean! so it’ll be an interesting experience.

  8. Guest Icon Guest
    FMIL of+Miss+Seashell.., Guest @ 9:00 pm

    i am of Polish descent and we did the let me call you sweetheart at all the weddings i ever attended in our family… it was a big deal and usually brought me to tears.. i think it is a lovely custom! I hope you get to do it…
    as for the baby apron, i am old enough, (married 37 yrs this oct) and never did i give it a thought not to do that.. it too was a part of our heritage and at the same time the veil came off and the bobby pins holding it were passed out to those in the circle and we young girls felt that we were the recipients of good luch if we happened to get one… i do understand that in those days the roles of women were different than they are now. i have no problem with young women today not feeling comfortable with the idea that their main role is to have babies…
    embrace the customs that speak to you … it will make your wedding yours… good luck and have a very happy life together!!!

  9. trailmix Member
    trailmix 6663 posts, Bee Keeper @ 9:03 pm

    Whatever the roots, it sounds like a fun and heartwarming tradition to partake in!

  10. Guest Icon Guest
    Megs08, Guest @ 10:35 pm

    My husband has primarily Italian/Sicilian heritage but his paternal grandmother is also Polish. The women made a circle around me and sang Let Me Call You Sweetheart at our wedding after my mother removed my veil then adorned me with a babushka and apron. My husband’s aunt explained the tradition prior to so people knew what was going on. Some of my favorite wedding photos are of family and friends holding hands and singing around me. Then the DJ broke into the Beer Barrel Polka and the place went nuts 😛

  11. Member
    JuneBride_26June2010 1739 posts, Bumble bee @ 10:47 pm

    wow. i’m very sad to say we are not doing ANY polish traditions. I too am a NW Indiana semi-polish girl. No joke – I am a “region rat” transplanted to Indianapolis. (grew up in South Haven, graduated Portage).
    My father’s mother’s parents (so my great-grandparents) moved here from Poland (well, Austria, but were Polish) in the early 1900’s. I REALLY wish I would have known more about my Polish heritage, but unfortunately – being the baby of all the grandkids – everyone passed when I was a very young age.

    I think it’s AWESOME that you are incorporating what you can into the wedding. :)

  12. Member
    Miso 203 posts, Helper bee @ 11:41 pm

    My family = completely WASP-y (as in no one new in the US since the 18th century). ergo few traditions

    My FI’s family = Japanese, but they don’t want us to do any of the traditions. But I think we’re going to all drink sake at the rehearsal dinner.

  13. taco Member
    taco 946 posts, Busy bee @ 12:53 am

    My Filipino peeps will be bummed, but we opted not to have any cha-cha music or a money dance. It’s just not very us.

  14. Member
    Tribble 47 posts, Newbee @ 1:29 am

    My FI is French and Mexican. I am at least Russian, English, Irish, Scottish, and like 10th generation American (my family were pilgrims). I am researching to find out if any traditions from these groups can be used with out crossing out the other and with out taking over the wedding. I am looking forward to tying in the past like that.

  15. Member
    Ms Jana 27 posts, Newbee @ 1:54 am

    How fun! Our family has our own wedding traditions too, but they include my aunts ‘booty popping’ and my grandma getting on the dance floor to “Dancing Queen”.

    I am full German and my fiance is full Mexican so we are incorporating a few traditions. We’re having polka music and salsa music and are also doing the Mexican march. This should be interesting, but my family is always up for a good party and my fiance says that polka music sounds like Mexican music. For the ceremony, we’re not sure yet if we’re going to do the coin thing and lasso or not. His parents did it for their wedding so it would have some cool meaning behind it.

  16. Member
    msbtb12 432 posts, Helper bee @ 8:17 am

    Ok I’m not Polish (although my grabdpa is like 3% Polish or something) however that “Let me call you sweetheart” tradition sounds so sweet and fun and I wish I could incorporate it into my wedding.

  17. Member
    dpillai 70 posts, Worker bee @ 9:06 am

    Oh. MY. GOD. My FI’s brother was forced to do the baby doll apron thing at his wedding. I pray that we can just “forget” and it won’t happen.
    We even have asked other Polish people and we get weird looks and “what are you talking about”? when we ask about the apron tradition. We totally thought FI’s mom made it up!!!!
    Do you know where the tradition comes from and/or what it signifies? In FI’s family, the groom wears the apron. It sounds like the bride typically does in your version?

  18. Member
    HappyJax 64 posts, Worker bee @ 9:48 am

    Both of our families are also a little Polish – my FI’s more than mine. His mom and aunt tried to get me to wear the baby apron. No way! I hope no one in his family makes me one for the shower. That’s just not us although my FI thinks it would be hilarious to see my face if I had to wear one.

    A tradition they mentioned was taking shots of whiskey with the groom and pinning money to me – so a different kind of money dance. Like you I couldn’t find anything on it and we are passing that one up too but will play a polka or two.

  19. lamb Member
    lamb 953 posts, Busy bee @ 10:11 am

    We did a polka as a nod to my heritage. If we had a summer/outdoor wedding, I might have played it up more and had an accordion somewhere :)

  20. Member
    alivoo01 2625 posts, Sugar bee @ 12:16 pm

    We’re modifying the tea ceremony for our ceremony and also modifying door games while picking up the bride!

  21. Member
    winter 1333 posts, Bumble bee @ 12:49 pm

    yes perhaps not all traditions cause that one doesn’t sound fun lol

  22. ribbons Member
    ribbons 1992 posts, Buzzing bee @ 2:46 pm

    @FMIL of+Miss+Seashell..: I’m glad that it’s more widespread than I originally thought!
    @Megs08: We’re also planning on the Beer Barrel Polka :)
    @dpillai: From what I understand, it’s supposed to signify fertility. That’s interesting that the groom has to wear it!

  23. Guest Icon Guest
    Margaret, Guest @ 1:22 pm

    I am Polish and my son and future daughter-in-law want too do the baby apron dance. What Polish song or polka do you play?

  24. Guest Icon Guest
    Deb, Guest @ 8:53 am

    There’s a response to Jescze nasza (she’s still ours), where the groom responds “but she’s mine tonight”. I can’t find the Polish saying. Would you happen to know it?

    BTW, I’m from NWI (Hammond, to be exact). :) I love a good traditional Polish wedding, complete with Wedding March.

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