A proposal has been submitted in the Polish parliament to make 14 August 2020 a one-off public holiday to mark the centenary of the Battle of Warsaw.
The petition was lodged to the parliamentary speaker by Paweł Zalewski, a Warsaw councillor from the Law and Justice (PiS) party, who submitted a similar proposal in late 2018, reports Gazeta Wyborcza.
Requesting an official day off work to commemorate the anniversary of the battle, usually marked on 15 August (a Saturday this year), Zalewski wrote that parliament “should formally establish an additional one-off national holiday”, adding that “if we had not been victorious then, each of us would now be in a different place, and this world would no doubt look very gloomy”.
The petition stressed that “we will be honouring those to whom we owe our defended independent state” and “marking the hundredth anniversary of the great victory of the Polish Army over Bolshevik Russia”, and that an additional day of commemoration was necessary.
According to parliamentary rules, the speaker sends such proposals to the Petitions Committee, assuming they satisfy formal requirements. The committee then analyses the petition before proposing a bill or rejecting it.
The Battle of Warsaw, also known as the Miracle on the Vistula, was a hugely significant victory for newly independent Poland over Soviet Russia, which took place between 12 and 25 August 1920. Poland celebrates Armed Forces Day on 15 August to commemorate the battle every year. Last year, an estimated 200,000 spectators, including the president and prime minister watched a military parade in Katowice.
Liam Neeson commemorates the anniversary of the 1920 Battle of Warsaw in a video produced by the Polish National Foundation, a state-funded body responsible for promoting Poland abroad pic.twitter.com/6aWPAjuakj
— Notes from Poland ?? (@notesfrompoland) August 16, 2018
The extra day off would not be without precedent. The Polish parliament declared 12 November 2018 a public holiday in honour of the centenary of independence, which took place on a Sunday the day before. This decision was criticised for its last-minute nature, as it was approved just the week before and therefore disrupted the plans of businesses, courts and schools.
Poland has recently seen a spate of national holidays declared by parliamentary resolutions, though these are not days off work. Last year, 14 April was declared a new holiday marking the “Baptism of Poland”, when the Christianisation of the country began.
In 2018, the National Day of Remembrance of Poles Rescuing Jews Under German Occupation was approved and celebrated for the first time. Poland currently has 13 official public holidays, including Epiphany, celebrated on 6 January since 2011.
Today is 1st National Day of Remembrance of Poles Rescuing Jews Under German Occupation, new national holiday approved by parliament this month. 24 March chosen as on that day in 1944 Ulma family murdered by the Germans for hiding Jews. More in English: https://t.co/lnOISVMwJc pic.twitter.com/VQhbOS7r1R
— Notes from Poland ?? (@notesfrompoland) March 24, 2018
Ben Koschalka is a translator and the assistant editor at Notes from Poland. Originally from Britain, he has lived in Kraków since 2005.