May 3rd Constitution Day [ pol. Święto Konstytucji 3 Maja] is a Polish national and public holiday, celebrated , as the name implies, on the 3rd of May, to commemorate some very important moment in the Polish history.
On May 3, 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. Despite being in effect for only a year, until the Polish- Russian War of 1972, The Constitution enactment is considered to be one of the most important achievements in the history of Poland. May 3rd was established as a national holiday just days after the Constitution was approved by 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 holiday’s public celebration was banned once more, this time by the communist authorities, to be finally reestablished after the fall of communism in 1990 . Since then it is annually celebrated as an official statutory holiday in Poland.
Constitution Day is a part of a holiday season known as Majówka, which also includes the May 1- Labour Day holiday. It is solemnly celebrated in every major Polish city with numerous parades, exhibitions , concerts and public figure speeches taking place that day. Everything is kept in a patriotic undertone in order to highlight the importance of the celebrated events for the Polish history. The main festivities take place in Warsaw with the presence of Polish President and other important dignitaries including our Prime Minister and Members of Parliament. The official programme begins with a celebratory mass in St. John’s Archcatherdal which is followed by the presidential awards for achievements in the field of advancing Polish culture. The whole splendour is added by cannon salvos, reading of the constitution preamble and singing a patriotic song from the November Uprising : „Witaj Majowa Jutrzenko” [ ang. Welcome , May Dawn] . The festivities are crowned with a big military parade that goes around the historical center of the city. After the parade, people gather at the Tomb of The Unknown Soldier [ pol. Grób Nieznanego Żołnierza] which is a monument in Warsaw, dedicated to the unknown soldiers who have given their lives for Poland.
May 3rd Parade is also held in many other Polish cities so that everybody can join the celebration and see Polish people finally united and full of national pride with hundreds of patriotic flags hanging outside of their windows and balconies.
Jan Matejko, a famous Polish painter, painted a work of art May 3rd Constitution Day. You can see the picture in the background of our cover of the text.