The celebrations of New Years Day inPoland are full of much vibrance.Traditionally, Christian Poles have devotedeach day on the calendar to a particular saintfor adoration and devotion to that saint.December 31 is named after St. Sylvester, andthus the day is commonly referred to asSylwester.
Polish people are divided into groups with differentopinions about this holiday. This is because duringthe communist era the 1st of May was celebrated asa manifestation of support for the LabourUnion, the workers, the Party and our socialistcountry which included everlasting friendship withthe Soviet Union whose troops were occupying ourcountry at that time. Marches were organised onthat day in all the larger cities. In fact it was a formof terrorizing the population.
Those who did not join their colleagues on themarch through cities and towns on 1st May werepunished at work by salary cuts or a decrease inprivileges, students could not sit theirexams, and other means of forced coercion.People were imprisoned or just disappeared.There were, however, always some forms ofmanifestation of Polish independence againstthe harsh Soviet rule.
Today is Labour Day in Poland, as well as most of the rest of the world. . As in Poland the 1st and the 3rd of May are free of work they form a long weekend . We call it weekend majowy or majówka. Labour Day is a day to have picnics, go to the beach Many Poles plan far or close trips, grills, parties with friends
This holiday commemorates the PolishConstitution which after many years ofdebate, discussions and negotiations in theSejm resulted in a national settlement signedon 3rd May 1791. Few people know that thiswas the first constitution in Europe and thesecond in the world . The Constitutionchanged the political system in Poland. It gavea new and modern way of ruling the country .Such a division created a modern anddemocratic country, the first of its kind inEurope.
New and very modern reforms were implemented andPoland finally had a chance to strengthen herindependence and become one of the important andmodern nations in Europe. However, the Russian rulerCatherine II with the connivance the Polish nobilitybetrayed the nation. In 1795, with the ThirdPartition, Poland was removed from the map of Europenot to be reinstated until 1918. The commemoration ofthe Constitution of 3rd of May is a very patriotic one. T.Courageous and controversial decisions had to be made(the limiting of the power of one group of people andincreasing the influence of another
Now we remember that on that daycertain decisions and people created a greatcountry and we can be proud of our part inthe building of European democracy and inthe establishment of the concept of therights of the individual. And we can allcelebrate 3rd May at festivities, historicalpresentations, parades and concerts.
On November 11, 1918, after 123 years ofcaptivity, Poland regained its independence.After years of partitions done by Austria, Prussia andRussia between 1772 and 1795, national uprisings(November Uprising of 1830 and January Uprising of1863), struggles and efforts in variousfields, Poles, owing to theirsteadfastness, patriotism and heroism, managed toregain their freedom. Józef Piłsudski, “First Marshalof Poland”, played an enormous role in Poland’srecovery of sovereignty.
The date of 11 November was announced a national holiday in 1937. Since 1939 to 1989, celebration of the holiday was forbidden. After the collapse of communist government, the holiday gained particular significance and it is now a red letter day. Major celebrations, attended by Polish State authorities, are held in Warsaw at Piłsudski Square. Sharply at noon, a ceremonious change of guards takes place before the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
Patriotic gatherings and parades are heldall over Poland. Churches celebrate masseswith the intentions of the Homeland. Since1989 every year several thousands ofvolunteers have taken part in the Race ofIndependence to commemorate the day.