Lexicon of cultural connotation: C – Constitution2013/05/08 17:09:00 Written by EwaMaslowska
The 3 of May is a national holiday in Poland. It is a celebration of the anniversary of the proclamation of the constitution in 1791. It was the first constitution in Europe, the second one in the world – after the American. The idea of the constitution was to reconstruct and strength the state by introducing a democratical way of governing the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and give more rights to the citizens, and develop a special program to protect peasants.
Unfortunately, the reformates’ could enjoy the victim of the constitution over the conservative groups only for 14 months. Under the pretext of defence the previous system and support the conservative opposition, a Russian Army attacked Poland in 1792. A desperate struggle to defend the constitution has failed. Poland fell under the rule of three neighbouring countries (Prussia, Austria and Russia) despite the Kościuszko insurrection (1794). Eventually, Poland lost independents for over 100 years. However, the spirit of the ideas of the constitution, the memory of the insurrection, a strong desire for freedom has never disappeared and after several uprisings and military activities during the First World War Poland regain its independence in 1918.
The May 3 was celebrated officially in 1972. Later on, it was banned by the occupants, but unofficial celebration has been continued to keep alive Polish aspirations for freedom. It was again made an official Polish holiday in April 1919 under the Second Polish Republic. During the communist time, it was removed from the list of national holidays, and in 1990, after the fail of the regime, the 3 May was restored and became the most important civil holiday. For Poles, the celebration of the May 3 Constitution is considered as a symbol of the best tradition of the history of the state and Polish culture.