Happy Polish Independence Day!
What is Polish Independence Day?
Poland’s Independence Day (Narodowe Święto Niepodległości) is celebrated on the 11th of November. This day commemorates the anniversary of when Poland regained its sovereignty from the German, Austro-Hungarian and Russian Empires in 1918.
Few people know that Poland actually disappeared from world maps for 123 years! From 1772, Poland was under attack by Russia, Prussia and Austria, which resulted in Poland being partitioned into three pieces. Due to their perseverance and dedicated fight, Poles finally regained their independence at the end of World War I.
Under command of the military hero Józef Piłsudski, who was appointed Commander-In-Chief on November 11th 1918, Poland was able to form a new government. Poland’s Independence Day was established in 1937 and was only able to be celebrated twice before World War II began.
From 1939 to 1944, Poland was under Nazi occupation. Therefore, all signs and displays of Polish culture was forbidden. Subsequently, Poland fell under control of the USSR, forbidding patriotic celebrations. After the fall of communism, Poland’s Independence Day was reinstated and celebrated once again beginning in 1989.
How do people celebrate Polish Independence Day?
Polish Indepence Day is largely celebrated in Warsaw on Pilsudski Square by the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Many cities across Poland display Polish flags, hold parades and political speeches are given. The televised celebrations in Warsaw are presided over by the President of Poland, who is joined by the Prime Minister and others in top political positions. The parade in Warsaw is formed by Poland’s Armed Forces. Though this is a celebratory holiday, most of the day's events take on a rather somber tone.
One of the most unique celebrations of Independence Day in the country is the Warsaw Independence Run. At the start of the race all of the runners join together to make a display of the Polish flag.
Tips For Travelers:
- This is a national holiday so most offices and shops are closed.
- If you are traveling in Warsaw, be aware that there will be road closures and possible delays on public transportation.
- Since most people do not work or attend school on this day, public places will be much busier. It's best to try and avoid crowds on this day.
Read more about Polish holidays here.
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