Flashback Friday…. Thursday, May 3rd, 2001. Isn’t it interesting how you choose the countries you want to visit if you have more than the usual two weeks off from work? Since planning on traveling for three months, I knew Poland had to be one of the countries I visited. It was the place where my dad’s parents were from and so of course I needed to see it. In a way, it helped me feel connected to that part of my nationality since I didn’t really know my grandparents and my dad passed away in 1988 before I took this trip. So this is how I ended up in Poland.
Now this day started out as any other day traveling with one exception; I was in Poland where this day happened to be a holiday for them. I didn’t find this out until I walked to one of the stores to buy something and found out that a lot of places were closed…. I asked around and come to find out Constitution Day is celebrated in this country. I never found out what the holiday was about and why people were celebrating it while I was in Warsaw.
While thinking back on this day, I wanted to know more about the Polish holiday and why it is celebrated on May 3rd. For me, having grandparents who lived in Poland made me want to know more about some of their holidays and this being one of them.
This Constitution dates back to May 3rd, 1791 and was only in effect for one year before the Polish-Russian War of 1792. It was established to address issues of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. Basically the Constitution sought to bring about a more democratic monarchy in Poland. It is something that is considered one of Poland’s most important holidays since they regained their independence in 1918. Another way to look at this holiday is to compare it to what we celebrate in the United States as 4th of July.
As I was walking around the city, I got to see some of the celebration first hand; police were in one area of the festivity I saw and that is when I knew that this day meant something to Warsaw. To all of Poland for that matter though I didn’t know what on the day I was there.
I stayed and watched the police and the festivities for a while before I left and headed towards Royal Castle. One thing that caught my attention right away was the column in the center of the square. On top of the column was the statue of King Sigismund III Vasa. I didn’t go inside the castle because I am sure it was closed because of the holiday as many things were that day. I would have loved to have gone inside the castle but found something else that occupied my time.
As I walked away from the castle, I found my way down to Ujazdowski Park and the first thing I noticed was the statue of this man sitting on a concrete chair with the grounds flowing behind him. I didn’t venture too far into the park except to stay near the monument and use that as a way to walk around the park and not get lost. If you knew me, you would know I could get lost easier than most people. Years later, I wish I had thrown caution to the wind and walked further into the park to see what else was there.
It was around 4:00 when I left the park but not before stopping by one of the street vendors and buying one of the polish sausages to eat on my way back to the hostel. It was one of the best sausages I have ever eaten but I am partial to polish food since I grew up eating pierogi’s and can’t forget the babka we would get from my Uncle’s at Christmas.
Isn’t it interesting how you could be talking about one thing and that in turn brings up memories of something else? That was the case with Poland because it brought up wonderful memories of my dad and wishing he and my mom could have taken this part of the trip with me.
I arrived back at the hostel and stayed there for a couple of hours before heading back out with Marissa who was staying there too.
We headed towards Royal Castle since we wanted to see if anything was going on over there because of the holiday. Along the way, we ran into a two person band. We decided to stay where the band was for a bit and listen to some of their music. I wasn’t sure if I would understand any of it since I figured they would be singing in polish. Was I wrong! You should never assume something because you are in another country….. As they were playing, some of the songs were in English such as ‘Who Shot the Sheriff’ by Bob Marley and another song by the Eagles. I couldn’t tell you the name of that song. It was a nice surprise to hear the music in English but I would have been as happy if it was in another language.
We only stayed to listen to a couple of songs before leaving the musicians behind us. Making our way to Royal Castle is where we heard an orchestra performing. Then we walked into the Old Town where someone was playing the trumpet. That is where we saw a tramp take off his coat, wearing only underpants, and dancing to the music. He looked like he was having a great time.
As much as I wanted to stay longer and listen to the music, we had to leave the music behind us and head back to the hostel. On our way back, we made one more stop and that was at St. Anne’s Church since it was on the way. Again, I wish we could have stayed longer but it turns out the hostel I chose had a lock-out which began at 11:00 p.m. Since I didn’t want to sleep on a park bench somewhere, we had to make it back to the hostel before they locked the doors on us.
Have you ever been to another country where they were celebrating the holidays? What did you do while you were there? Did you join in the festivities? I would love to hear your stories on your own holiday experience in another country.
Check out these links for more information on Constitution Day.