Today is May 1st. This is significant in a couple of different ways.
May 1st was Labour Day, or Swięnto Pracy, under the Communist regime of the USSR. This meant no work and forced participation in parades throughout the USSR. You were expected to dress nicely and stand with your family outside for 3-4 hours during the parade and cheer, irregardless of how you really felt. Spies were in the crowds watching and everyone knew this. Not participating, not cheering, snide comments under your breath to your loved ones, all could carry terrible repercussions on yourself and your family.
May 1st was also only a few days after the Chernobyl disaster in 1986. Parades were expected to still continue under Moscow's instructions. Children were all given Płyn Lugola to drink on that day. We were in the USA for a few years by this time and I know we count ourselves as lucky in regards to this.
May 1st is called International Workers' Day throughout the world.
The Catholic Church has designated May 1st as Saint Joseph the Worker Day. He is considered the patron saint of workers, carpenters and those who oppose Communism. He is also the patron saint of immigrants, which is part of the reason why there are many churches in areas where immigrants have historically moved to. His day was designated in 1995, after the USSR May 1st parades began in some countries.
Today, May Day, is going to be flooded with marches as well. Protesters throughout the world are demanding fair wages in China and Occupy Movement marches in every major city, including throughout Poland.
May 2nd is another important date for Polonia. It is the date ratified by the Senate of Poland as Polonia Day. It is also Polish Flag Day.
May 3rd is Polish Constitution Day, and because it falls on a Thursday, will be celebrated by the US Polonia community on Saturday, May 5th.
My family and I will be spending this week flying our Polish flags, wearing red, our Polish eagle pins, looking through children's books about Poland, calling our family in Poland, and learning and sharing our heritage. We might even take the long drive into Chicago for the Polish Constitution Day Parade this Saturday and perhaps even visiting a Polish restaurant, depending on the weather and a few other factors.
What will your family be doing to celebrate?
Check out some great articles with poems about these dates:
Polish Art Center
Transparent (from the same people who make the free Polish Word of the Day widget in my side bar)
Have you ordered your Polish flag and paraphernalia yet from Dom itp?