National 3rd of May Holiday
Anniversary of the First Polish Constitution
On May 3, 1791, the Constitution of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth was adopted. It was the first constitution of modern Europe and second in the world, following the American one. It was a significant achievement of the Polish Enlightenment thinkers.
Only two days after the Constitution had been passed by the Grand Sejm [Polish Parliament] (1788-1792), the 3rd of May was established a national holiday, and subsequently it was suspended for a long time due to the country’s partitioning. It was reinstituted after Poland regained its freedom in 1918. After World War II, in 1946, the communist authorities forbade its public celebration, and attempts of manifestations were suppressed by militiamen. In 1951 the holiday was officially cancelled. Since 1990 the 3rd of May Holiday has again been celebrated as an official statutory holiday in Poland, and a red-letter day. Since 2007 it has also been the national holiday of Lithuania.
Particularly solemn atmosphere can be observed during the major 3rd of May Holiday celebrations before the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at the Piłsudski Square in Warsaw. They involve a military parade, volleys, ceremonious change of guards, laying wreaths. Representatives of the top Polish state authorities, military authorities, clergy, as well as representatives of the diplomatic corps, veterans, scouts and thousands of Warsaw residents pay tribute to the accomplishment of eminent Poles.
The 3rd of May Holiday is a joyful occasion. Spring events, concerts, family picnics are held throughout Poland. The streets of the Polish capital city see a great number of people running under the slogan “From the 3rd May Constitution to the European Union”.