May is a month full of holidays celebrated by Poles

May is a significant month for Poles, with several significant days to celebrate. The focus in Poland is mainly on a holiday called “majówka,” which is the name for the first days of May when two state holidays are celebrated. May 1 is Labor Day in Poland, celebrated as the International Day of Solidarity of Workers. Although the holiday originated in the USA and was first celebrated in Chicago in 1889 during a strike for an 8-hour working day, it was made an annual celebration in Poland by the Communists. Slogans like “Feast of the Working People” and “Long Live the Unity of the Nation” were the norm at rallies and May Day celebrations during the Communist period. The first celebrations in Poland occurred in 1890, and since 1950, May 1 has been a state holiday. Although older generations of Poles mainly remember it, it is still a public holiday and an excellent opportunity for an extended trip out of town.
Also, on May 1, the Catholic Church commemorates St. Joseph the Worker. Pope Pius XII gave the title of St. Joseph the patron of carpenters, builders, and all workers in 1955. The feast itself is an alternative to laic Labor Day.
May 2 is a day of great significance for Poles as it is celebrated as National Flag Day in the Republic of Poland. This Polish holiday, which falls between two State Holidays, May 1 (Labor Day) and May 3 (the National Holiday of May 3), has been celebrated since 2004. It was established to promote Polish identity and national culture. The day commemorates a significant event in 1944 when the First Polish Army, a part of the Russian forces, entered Berlin and proudly hoisted the Polish flag on the Berlin Victory Column. This event symbolizes the resilience and strength of the Polish people, evoking a strong sense of national pride.
The following day, May 3, is the National Day of the Third May. This State Holiday was established in 1919 and once again renewed in 1990 on the anniversary of adopting the Constitution of May 3 for the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, which was adopted in 1791. This day holds a unique place in history as it is considered Europe’s first and the world’s second modern written national Constitution after the United States Constitution, which came into force in 1789. The day is not only a celebration of this significant historical event but also a time for reflection and appreciation of the values it represents.
May 3, a day of multiple celebrations, also holds significant religious importance. The feast of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Queen of Poland, is a church holiday established in 1920 and celebrated exclusively in the Polish Catholic Church. This day commemorates the momentous occasion when King Jan Kazimierz entrusted Poland to protect the Mother of God during the Swedish Deluge.
May 9th is Europe Day, celebrated in Poland since joining the European Union in 2004. On this day, cities across Poland organize events to celebrate European unity. The date marks the anniversary of the signing of the “Schuman Declaration” in Paris in 1950. The declaration proposed a new form of political cooperation in Europe aimed at preventing another war.
May 18 marks an extraordinary day for WWII history – Battle of Monte Cassino. On that day in 1944 – the Polish 2 Corps broke the German defensive lines and opened the road for the Allies to liberate Rome from German occupation.
This year, the celebration of “Zielone Swiatki” is on May 19th. Typically, it falls in May, but when Easter falls late, it can occur in June. Zielone Świątki, which translates to Green Feast, commences on Pentecost, which is 49 days after Easter Sunday. This holiday has become intertwined with old Slavic traditions that celebrate the arrival of summer. People decorate their homes, barns, and animals with flowers and tree branches. Previously celebrated for two days in Poland until 1951, it is now a national holiday during which shops are closed. In 2018, Pope Francis added the day after Pentecost, making it the Memorial Day of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church.
In Poland, Mother’s Day is celebrated on May 26th. This day has its roots in America and was first celebrated in Krakow in 1914, where a small picnic was organized to honor the mothers of a boy’s school. Due to its popularity, the celebration spread throughout Poland, and now the entire country celebrates it. Unlike other countries, Poland celebrates Mother’s Day on May 26th every year, regardless of the day of the week. However, most countries celebrate Mother’s Day on the second Sunday of May.
May is a month full of holidays celebrated by Poles. Wishing everyone a happy and sunny May!