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Witam! Just wanted to say Cześć and briefly introduce myself. I’m Katarzyna (Kasia works too), a Cleveland-raised Polish American. Both of my parents were fresh off the boat (okay, they flew over, but most people go with the boat explanation). Polish was my first language, and I really didn’t learn English until I started kindergarten. I’m a college grad (will tell you where I went via a future post – shameless plugs for my alma mater will be common to my posts), and I am employed as the Director of Internet Marketing for my company. I’m a mother of two boys, who I am completely enamored with and consider myself blessed to be their mom. I am completely addicted to Disco Polo. Oh yeah, I admitted it. And, can I say, after years of trying to be more American, I have embraced my Polish roots and am very excited to be sharing all my Pollack love with the world! I hope my posts are feeds you look forward to reading, are bits of knowledge you can use and something you can laugh at if all else fails.
For my first post, I am thinking back to one of my first history lessons. It’s something my Father told me, and, at the time, I can honestly say I thought he was pulling my leg. In fact, I remember telling him he was a liar. I was convinced that there was no way Poland, of all countries, was the second nation to ever collect and formally write up governing laws. This wasn’t so much lack of faith in Poland, but more the fact that I was trying to be less Polish and more American. Needless to say, with age comes wisdom. And now I can fully admit that I was wrong and my Father, in fact, was right. Poland was the second nation in the world to write and adopt a constitution, and it was the first European nation to do so.
This weekend, in Poland, and everywhere proud Pollacks reside, we celebrate the Constitution of May 3, 1791. It was established on that day as the Ustawa rządowa, or a government act, by the Polish Parliament, also known as the sejm. The document established that the nobility and the commoners were equal, and peasants, who were treated like slaves at the time, were no longer owned and under government protection.
The holiday was short-lived initially because the constitution lasted only a year, eliminated by the events of the Russian-Polish War of 1792. The date was not celebrated again until 1919, when Poland was regarded as the Polish People’s Republic. Poland existed as this republic between World War I and World War II. The celebration of the holiday again was short-lived, because during the second World War, with the Nazi occupation of Poland, the holiday was banned. The celebration of Święto Konstytucji 3 Maja was not regarded as a holiday again until the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, when the Communist occupation of Poland ended. In fact, during the Communist occupation, the date was used as a day of protest and rebellion, not a holiday. The following year, in 1990, the Święto Konstytucji 3 Maja was celebrated as a holiday once again in Poland.
So now that we have a brief history lesson out of the way, how does a Pole celebrate Constitution Day? Well, this year, here in Cleveland, we had dueling parades. Traditionally, Slavic Village hosted the festivities, with a parade that highlighted all things Polish. However, this year, Parma, a southern suburb, threw its own parade into the mix of celebrations. And with the choices available, it left Cleveland Poles with the dilemma of having to choose. But there is nothing wrong with choices!
In addition to the parades, there was a ball, crowning a young woman as the Queen of the Parade in Parma. There were several restaurants serving up their Polish best, from gołąbki (stuffed cabbage rolls) to pierogi (stuffed dumplings) to kapusta z kielbasą (sauerkraut and ielbasa). And I can say with a degree of certainty that libations flowed freely, and people sampled beers from Poland. These included the popular import Okocim, from southeastern Poland, and another beer, a favorite of mine, Żywiec. Żywiec is brewed and exported from the border town of the same name in south central Poland. Celebrations like these make other rare imports, like a Lech or a Harnas available, and the festival goers made sure that the rarer imports were appreciated.
Here are some photos from this year’s parade in Parma, OH:
Do następnego czytania…