In Poland, the third of May is a national holiday equivalent to our 4th of July. It celebrates the 1791 passage of their democratic Constitution, which is often considered to be the first such document in Europe. It was only the second in the world after the U.S. Constitution was adopted four years earlier. It was in effect for one year when Russia and Prussia annexed parts of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and banned it. In the decades that followed, Poland ceased to exist as an independent nation.
The Polish Constitution re-emerged 127 years later when Poland regained its independence after World War I. However, Poles were only able to celebrate their autonomy for a relatively short period. The Axis powers again banned the holiday during World War II. During communist domination, May 3rd was often a day of unrest rather than pride. The national holiday was restored after the fall of communism in 1989. It is a day of grand celebration in Poland.
It is also recognized in many parts of the United States, including Connecticut, where the Polish flag flies over the state capitol. There will be a ceremony open to the public on the first floor of the Capitol at 11 a.m. on Wednesday, May 3. The event typically includes an invocation, the national anthems of Poland and the United States, speakers, a short cultural performance, and presentations to Polish Americans who contribute to the preservation of the heritage. Please watch the Suffield Polish Heritage Society FaceBook group for details.