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Happy Polish Constitution Day (1st in Europe)!

Hi all, thought I would share some fascinating history on the national day of Poland, which is today!

It is a little known fact that the Polish Constitution of 3rd of May 1791 was Europe's first and the world's second modern written national constitution, after the United States Constitution that had come into effect in 1789. The Polish 3rd May Constitution combined a monarchical republic with a clear division of executive, legislative, and judiciary powers.

The Polish Constitution of 3rd of May was inspired by the ideals of the American Independence War, as many Poles had fought in that war and became war heroes, and then returned to Poland to help implement these political advancements in their home country, namely among them was Tadeusz Kościuszko. A close friend of Thomas Jefferson's, with whom he shared ideals of human rights, Kościuszko wrote a will in 1798, dedicating his U.S. assets to the education and freedom of the U.S. enslaved peoples.

The Polish Constitution extended personal security—neminem captivabimus, the Polish version of habeas corpus protection—to the bourgeoisie and minorities including Jews. Unfortunately the Polish Constitution of 3rd May did not last long as the reactionary powers of Prussia, Russia, and Austria soon partitioned Poland and dissolved the Constitution.

The 3rd May anniversary of its adoption has been observed as Poland's most important civil holiday since Poland regained her independence in 1918. Its importance for the Polish people has been compared to that of 4 July to the Americans.

Happy Święto Narodowe Trzeciego Maja!

Posted by
1757 posts

Thanks, Carlos, for that bit of Polish government and history!

Its importance for the Polish people has been compared to that of 4 July to the Americans.
Are there celebrations? Barbecues, parades and fireworks?
(Not asking to be facetious, but wondering if it would be fun to visit on May 3rd to see the local celebrations.)

Posted by
1992 posts

Thanks! Unfortunately I have not been in Poland during the May 3rd holiday, but interestingly I was at a May 3rd Polish festival down in San Diego at the House of Poland in Balboa Park. There were definitely barbeques with Polish sausage and beer and flag waving, with traditional songs and dancing, that was really fun 😁

Posted by
1757 posts

A town near me has an annual Polish street festival with food, crafts, music and dancing. Lots of fun! But held in August.

Posted by
1564 posts

Are there celebrations? Barbecues, parades and fireworks? (Not asking
to be facetious, but wondering if it would be fun to visit on May 3rd
to see the local celebrations.)

I don't mean to derail the thread, but in most countries there are some kind of celebrations on their national day. But if you want to visit and experience local celebrations, there are in my opinion two countries that stand out. France (Bastille day, 14th July) and Norway (17th May).

Posted by
5502 posts

There's a big parade and celebration every year in Chicago (naturally). Also much smaller one here in Kansas City in the before times, but upstaged by Cinco de Mayo.

Posted by
1757 posts

Thanks, Badger.

I did find this (on Wikipedia):
In modern Poland, this day, free from work, sees many parades, exhibitions, concerts and public figure speeches.

Whenever I am able to reschedule my Warsaw/Poland trip, I could arrange to be there May 3.

And if I don't, I also found reference to May 3rd Polish festivities in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, near where I live.