November 11 marks the momentous occasion when Poland won complete independence and became a sovereign nation. On the National Independence Day many native Poles hoist flags outside their homes and spill into the streets to join in the boisterous celebrations. The day is equally important to Polish migrants living in foreign countries. Here is a look at how the Polish celebrate their National Independence Day in Poland and abroad.
By the time the First World War was drawing to a close in 1918 Poland had already attained partial independence. Marshal Józef Piłsudski, a celebrated military hero and the architect of the Second Polish Republic played an instrumental role. The real push towards gaining full sovereignty came with the Armistice between the Allies and Germany. Marshal Józef Piłsudski stormed into the Polish capital of Warsaw and took control of the government as the Commander-in-chief of the country. On November 11 Poland’ independence was finally restored. This was a significant event because it came after a very long wait. For 123 years Poland was partitioned between Russia, Austria, and Prussia. The freedom after World War I was short-lived. Within 2 short decades World War II broke out, after which the Soviet Union occupied Poland. Eventually the Soviets left in 1989. The emerging government decided to observe November 11 as the Polish National Independence Day.
Celebrations in Poland
The Poles celebrate this day with unblemished pride. They understand the value of what they lost and regained, and how dearly it cost. They honor those who made freedom possible. Participating in these celebrations is considered a badge of honor. Every year the Polish Independence Day features a pompous military parade at the Piłsudski Square in Warsaw. Exactly at mid-day there is a ceremonial change of guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. In Polish cities such as Gdynia, Sopot, and Gdansk people pour out on the streets dressed in ceremonial colors. They form large groups and participate in civilian marches to the sound of trumpets and drum rolls. November 11 is a distinctly festive day. Throughout the country there are many concerts, elaborate family re-unions, and large scale fireworks displays.
Statistics Poland, the official statistical resource of the Polish government, estimates the size of the Polonia (Polish diaspora) in Germany at 2.5 million. Germany’s very own Destatis Statistiches Bundesamt pegs their exact number at 2,253,000. This makes Germany the country with the third largest migrant Polish population after the US and Brazil. The US Census Bureau reports that in 2019 the US was home to an estimated 9 million people of Polish descent. Brazil 2010 census estimated 3 million Poles living in the country. Statistics Poland reports that some of the other countries with large Polish populations are Canada, the UK, France, Italy, and Belarus. Poles in Germany work hard to send remittances back to their families in Poland. Their favorite remittance channels include the Ria Money Transfer App.
Celebrating as an expat
Instead of stepping out in the streets to join the marches and parades, expat Poles catch up with the celebrations in Warsaw on TV or online. Many of them tune into the broadcasts of political speeches of the day. Polish embassies in countries including the US, Germany, Pakistan, and Abu Dhabi hold receptions on the Polish Independence Day. These parties, although rarely large scale, are the perfect occasions for Polish expats to mingle and chat on a variety of subjects. Bigos, Poland’s de-facto national dish, and the more traditional dumplings known as pierógi are the highlights of these parties. Some overseas Polonia clubs annually organize National Independence Day events to educate and orient Polish children abroad on the country’s history and culture. These events are often characterized by singing patriotic songs and enacting dramatized vital moments in Polish history through plays. The National Independence Day is important to Poles no matter where in the world they live.
About the author:
Hemant G is a contributing writer at Sparkwebs LLC, a Digital and Content Marketing Agency. When he’s not writing, he loves to travel, scuba dive, and watch documentaries.