National Independence Day in Poland
When? November 11.
The meaning and history. This day commemorates the anniversary of the restoration of Poland's sovereignty as the Second Polish Republic in 1918. Before this event Poland was a part of the Russian Empire, the Kingdom of Prussia and the Habsburg Empire for 123 years.
The holiday was established in 1937. Then before World War II it was celebrated only twice. During the communist period it was removed from the calendar. A new national holiday was celebrated on July 22, on the anniversary of the communist PKWN Manifesto under Josef Stalin. Only in 1989, when Poland emerged from Soviet communism, was the original holiday restored.
How it is celebrated. It is a non-working day in Poland and one of the greatest holiday for all Poles. Dominik Ciemierz, 37, a gardener, has been living abroad for 10 years, but this day is still very important for him.
“I come from Cracow. It is a very old city, where Polish kings lived in the royal castle of Wawel”, he says. “Poles are great patriots, it’s true. This year, on November 11 we celebrate the 98th anniversary of regaining independence in Poland. Parades and ceremonious gatherings are held in all town and cities, including Pilsudski Square in Warsaw, a capital of our country.
In my hometown, there is a tradition to hang flags and national symbols upon the houses. The whole city on this day is decorated with Polish flags! I visited several times the parade in Krakow. It begins with official mass in the church; then a military march takes place to commemorate the fallen Polish soldiers fighting for the independence. The Poles lay flowers and wreaths to the monuments”.
Another highlight of this day is the Race of Independence, which involves thousands of participants. Dominik tells that he has a close connection with this event, because his brother every year takes active part in parade in Krakow. “My brother is an “uhlan” (a horsesoldier, a cavalryman), it’s his hobby. On Independence Day he rides horses, you can see him on many photos. And I am personally very proud of the country where I was born in spite of living abroad for 10 years”.
Dominik celebrates the National Independence Day. Every year he lights a candle to honor the people who fought for the independence of Poland.
Text: Vita Vitrenko. Photos: Natalya Usik (1), Dominik Ciemierz (2-5).