Times a-changin’, the Chamlets and Odd Names
Times they are a-changin’
The dictum ‘you never step in the same river twice’ is certainly true for Polish bureaucracy and thankfully 2013 is ushering in some welcome changes. Thanks to the new eWUŚ system, proof that your ZUS (social insurance) payments are up to date, stamped medical books are no longer a pre-requisite for public clinic and hospital care. All passport-related issues can now be dealt with at the nearest public administration office, and to de-register from a district when changing your residence, you just need to sign up to your new Urząd (local council).
VAT and Income Tax amendments include the obligation to reduce tax deductibles by the sum total of unsettled invoices. Also, there are new rules for bad debt relief and the ‘taxable point’ (the date on invoices, which determines the rate of VAT), to be made payable by small taxpayers. Moreover, the requirement to issue internal invoices is a thing of the past. Maternity leave is now one year long while reimbursement of in-vitro fertilisation procedures come into effect from June. New theory tests for category B driving licences mean you no longer answer 18 from 500 questions but 32 from a pool of 3000 questions.
Recognising an all too frequent trend in marketing screw-ups, the third edition of ‘The Chamlets – Worst Advertisements Festival’ took place recently. Originally established by social psychologist professors Michael Fleischer and Dariusz Doliński in 2009, the festival’s name is a witty Shakespearean twist on the Polish word ‘cham’ (boor or lout). Among the 450 nominated adverts was an SLD political candidate’s attempt to woo voters by doing a striptease, a dire idea by Manufaktura, a shopping centre in Łódz, encouraging clients to ‘Loot the Collection’ during the company’s ‘Crystal Night of Shopping’. Worst newspaper ad was given to ‘The Holocaust Victims International Memory Day’ poster, showing a young model in a Nazi uniform saying: “I’m Hans. I’m 25. In December 1943 I killed 40 people in Warsaw. Remember me so it will never happen again.”
All of the above pale into insignificance compared to Robert Surowiecki’s recent failed attempt to name his new bar ‘Piwnica u Fritzla’ (Fritzl’s cellar) on Warsaw’s Nowy Świat street. He may be neck and neck with Heyah mobile communications for a Chamlet in 2013. All the worst adverts can be seen on www.chamlet.pl
No Country for Odd Names
The top kids’ names in 2012 held few surprises. Pick out a random playground in your area and you’re bound to hear Szymon, Jakub, Maciej, Marek and Mateusz as well as Kasia, Julia, Zuzia, Zosia and Magda. More and more parents have recently started to seek out unique monikers for their newborns, but any names deemed to breach article 50 of the Marital Status Act will receive a disapproving shake of the head. In Poland you are not allowed to give your kid more than two names; nor ones which can be laughed at (Tupak), or obscene (Loki), nor diminutive forms (no Mela, Kris or Ula); nor gender-confusing monikers (Bieber loving Moms watch out – Justin is too close to Justyna).
Foreign versions of names are not permitted if there is a Polish version, so no John instead of Jan, nor Kate instead of Katarzyna (Kate Middleton fans will be disappointed). Experts at Rada Języka Polskiego (Polish Language Council) often give their opinions on parents’ name requests and their 550 responses to date include some gems. For boys: Pelé, Merlin, Montezuma, Neo and Ozzy have all been rejected as have Legia, Truskawka (Strawberry) Attika, Mercedes, Unka and Vanilia for girls. If you want to ensure that your newborns lead a prosperous life, Andrzej or Anna are considered safe bets.