May Days (Majówka)

29 Mar 2018

Spring ushers in the arrival of not only fair weather to Poland, but also the country’s ‘National Holiday Season,’ which in addition to Easter offers two other dates to note down in the diary:

First up is May 1st, otherwise known as Labour Day, and a direct leftover from the communist lurch. In those days it was dominated by parades, concerts and coordinated gatherings to celebrate the glories of socialism, and while Poland was gradually edging further and further away from Moscow’s manipulation, the people were damned if they were going to give up a well-deserved day off from work. Despite the political and social changes Poland has since experienced, and the sour memories of Stalinist posturing, the post-communist government opted to keep the plebiscite happy and maintain May 1st as a public holiday – only without any red flag and party badge nonsense. As such, it resembles the American Labour Day, which is basically a day off for the sake of having a day off. Amen to that.

Adding to the good news is that Poles find themselves with another day off before Labour Day has even become a memory. May 3rd is Constitution Day, which in contrast to the history of May 1st, is one of the most important annual celebrations of Polish independence and nationalism. It was on this day that the Polish Sejm (parliament) proudly signed what was to become Europe’s first national constitution (and second in the world after the US) in Warsaw’s Royal Castle back in 1791.


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