Holidays Perspective

Poland proudly celebrates freedom and democracy

(Magdalena Tokarczyk/YJI)

Przysietnica, POLAND – Early this month, Europeans gathered in polling places and chose the deputies who will represent their country in the European Parliament.

While many may perceive elections as an obvious event routinely held every five years, it would be worthwhile to acknowledge that democracy and broadly understood political freedom was not always a privilege of all European citizens.

Poland, for example, a central European country and my homeland, adopted the Government Act of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, which was the guarantee of democracy and political liberty, in 1791.

Our country celebrates this event every year on May 3rd.

The date was a true milestone in the history of Poland as the document ensured political freedom and equality as well as introduced the tripartite separation of powers. The pages of the Constitution included resolutions that alluded to the Age of Enlightenment’s ideas such as religious tolerance and the leading role of knowledge.

The Constitution of May 3rd is widely considered to be the first modern constitution in Europe, and the second in the world, after the Constitution of the United States of America, enacted on September 17, 1787.

Although the Government Act didn’t save Poland from losing independence as a result of the three partitions by Austria, Russia and Prussia, May 3rd became a national holiday a year after the country reappeared on Europe’s map in 1918.

The celebrations of the Constitution declaration were banned during World War II and Communist Party rule, but many Poles didn’t stop commemorating the holiday.

Today – 233 years later – May 3 is noble evidence of the struggle for maintaining independence and improving the economic and political state of the country during crisis and is still one of Poland’s most important national holidays.

Magdalena Tokarczyk is a Reporter with Youth Journalism International.

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