Many people in Poland celebrate Constitution Day (Święto Konstytucji 3 Maja or Święto Narodowe Trzeciego Maja), which commemorates the enactment of the Polish Constitution that came into effect on May 3rd, 1791.
Constitution Day is part of a holiday season known as Majówka, which also includes the May 1st/Labor Day holiday.Most of people take May 2nd off to celebrate both holidays (sometimes it becomes a really long weekend, especially when 1st is on Wednesday!) It is celebrated with military parades, spring concerts and family picnics. Many people also gather at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier (Grób Nieznanego Żołnierza) at the Piłsudski Square in Warsaw. The monument is dedicated to unknown soldiers who gave their lives for Poland.
Constitution Day is an official public holiday in Poland, so schools, banks, government offices and most private businesses are closed. There is a trade prohibition on public holidays in Poland. People intending to travel via public transport during public holidays must check with the public transit authorities on any changes to time schedules.
On May 3rd, 1791, the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth’s constitution was adopted. It was the first constitution in modern Europe and second in the world, following the American one. It was a significant achievement of the Polish Enlightenment thinkers.
May 3rd was established as a holiday only days after the constitution was passed by the Grand Sejm (Polish Parliament). It was later suspended for many years due to the country’s partitioning, but was reinstituted after Poland regained its freedom in 1918. After World War II, in 1946, the communist authorities banned the holiday’s public celebration. The holiday was officially cancelled in 1951. Since 1990 the May 3 holiday has again been celebrated as an official statutory holiday in Poland.
Do następnego razu… (Till next time…)