So this Monday (November 11th) was Polish Independence Day. (woo hoo free day off of work) So because I had to stay in Warsaw over a long weekend (silly work getting in the way of my travels) I decided to go exploring and trying to figure out how Polish people celebrate this special day.
I would like to start off by saying that Canadians (or myself anyway) normally have a parade, BBQ, fireworks, speeches made by politicians, face painting, drinking of Canadian beer etc. Overall: a pretty relaxing atmosphere.
Now, I do realize that November 11th is “celebrated” around the world as more somber holiday as this is the day we remember. (In Canada: Remembrance Day, in the US: Veterans Day) So I was aware that Polish Independence Day will be more somber.
All in all… from my point of view… I experienced an amazing day J
Here is some historical background on this day though…
It’s official translation (according to government websites): National Independence Day
First time it was celebrated was in 1937 though from 1939-1989 it was forbidden to celebrate. So now.. officially, it should be a day where there’s a ceremonious change of guards (In Warsaw – Pilsudski square), special masses held in churches and a “Race of Independence” to commemorate this day.
My independence day included some of those elements:
Start was walking around centrum. Here, stumbled upon a woman selling “rogaliki” (a sweet bun with a delicious almond filling”. After this delicious snack and a tea from Starbucks, I stumbled upon an amazing parade. (see pictures below) It’s hard to describe the atmosphere. But families were gathering. People were clapping and cheering. Very positive. Patriotic. Pleasant.
Here are some photos from the parade:
*note: it’s cool to see the different uniforms from different times
Stop for Chinese soup… ok not Polish… but delicious.
I figured the celebrations were in need of a toast (mulled wine it is!)
More walking… burned more calories… which made me stop for dessert 🙂
And then the vibe changed. One could almost feel the transformation in the air… I walked by a TV and saw it. The image of a burning rainbow… and that’s where I became angry. Angry and sad. My whole day of thinking… wow, what a great day! And that’s when I heard about the riots and the protests… that put a damper on the whole thing… BUT.. After careful consideration (and one Facebook comment) I’ve decided to go back to the memories of the beginning of the day.
I’m choosing to remember Polish National Independence Day as the day where I saw families gathering. Generations coming together. An old lady clapping and waving to the soldiers. (and singing… badly to the tune that the soldiers were playing) A father running with his son so he could catch a glimpse of the really cool tank. Veterans offering flowers at the tomb of the unknown soldier. Older ladies trying to figure out how to use their camera in their phone so they could take a picture of Pilsudski Square. Hundreds of people admiring uniforms old and new, waving flags, and cheering. That’s how I choose to remember this day.
What did you do for your Remembarance Day/Veterans Day?