MajMay is a happy month in Poland, as most of the people enjoy time off around two public holidays: the First and the Third of May.

On May 1st ,Poland celebrates the International Workers Day. It commemorates the 1886 Haymarket riot in Chicago and the workers’ general strike for the eight hour workday. May 1st was the biggest national celebration during the communist times. Workers were obliged to dress in national colors and participate in the parades, carrying banners of their companies. Nowadays, May 1st is  simply a public holiday.

The most important is the celebration of the first Polish democratic Constitution signed on May 3rd, 1791. The Polish Constitution was the second declared in the world, after the American Constitution. It introduced social changes and political equality between town citizens and nobility, placed peasants under protection of the government, and banned liberum veto – an anti-democratic institution, when a single vote could stop the legislation in the parliament. Unfortunately, the Constitution of May 3rd was in power only for 14 months. It aimed to improve the political situation in Poland, but instead antagonized the neighboring monarchies. In 1795 Poland finally lost its sovereignty (its territory was split between Russia, Prussia and Austria) and ceased to exist as a country for 123 years. Still, the Constitution of May 3rd remains a proud patriotic symbol.

Depending on a year, you can have up to 9 days off by just taking 3 vacation days! The weather is usually nice, so many Poles take trips outside the city, called “Majowka”, a May picnic. Family and friends gather outdoors for camping, barbecuing, singing by the bonfires or simply – enjoying Spring!

Katarzyna Swope