Prof Jan Pakulski delivers an occasional speechProf Jan Pakulski delivers an occasional speech

Constitution Day

The Polish community, whether at home or abroad, gathers together to commemorate the day of 3rd of May 1791 (Święto 3 Maja) when the modern Constitution was adopted

It was the first constitution in modern Europe and second in the world, following the American one.

The constitution aimed to replace the existing lack of social and political unity, which had been encouraged by some of those in power, with stronger, more democratic laws. It offered greater public equality between the rich and the poor and better protection from ill treatment for lower class servants and farm labourers.
It stopped bad parliamentary customs such as the liberum veto which had made it possible for a single member of parliament to overturn all laws that had been passed by the Sejm (Polish Parliament).

The 3rd of May was established as a holiday only days after the constitution was passed by the Grand Sejm (Polish Parliament). It was later suspended for many years due to the country’s partitioning, but was reinstituted after Poland regained its freedom in 1918. After World War II, in 1946, the communist authorities banned the holiday’s public celebration but untill 1989, 3rd May was a frequent occasion for anti-government and anti-communist protests. Since 1990 the 3rd May holiday has again been celebrated as an official statutory holiday in Poland.

Photos: courtesy of Maciek Matuszak

Click on an image on the left to see more photos.