Here in Kraków and across Poland, we are enjoying the traditional May holiday long weekend, (Majówka), one of the main holiday weekends of the year.
Traditional May Holidays
1st May – Labour Day, (Swieto Pracy) is one of those legacies from communist times, and is celebrated around the world, sometimes known as workers day. Of course the Poles have put their communist past behind them, but why would they give up the holiday !
2nd May – Flag Day, (Dzień Flagi Rzeczypospolitej Polskiej), A holiday introduced in 2004, it commemorates raising the flag on Siegessäule during the Battle of Berlin.
The now familiar red and white colours of the flag were first recognised as the national colours on 3rd May 1792, on the first anniversary of the signing of the Constitution of 3rd May. They were officially adopted as the colours of the Polish State by the Sejm of the Kingdom of Poland in 1831 during the November Uprising. After Poland regained independence, the appearance of the Polish flag was confirmed by the Legislative Sejm on 1st August 1919.
On this day, Poles reflect upon the long history of the red and white national colours and proudly display flags outside their houses. The President of Kraków has made an appeal for residents to fly the flag on their homes and buildings.
The red and white will also be flown from official buildings and displayed electronically at the usual places. You will also see other flags; the blue/white city flag, the blue/yellow National flag of Ukraine, in solidarity with our Ukrainian neighbours, and the EU flag, as May 1st marks the 19th Anniversary of Poland’s accession to the EU in 2004.
3rd May – Constitution Day, (Święto Konstytucji 3 Maja) is a much more important celebration of Poland’s independence and nationalism. Commemorating the signing of Poland’s and Europe’s first national constitution signed in 1791 in Warsaw. This year marks the 232nd anniversary of the adoption of the May 3rd Constitution
4th May – Fire Fighter’s Day, (Dzień Strażaka), not really a holiday as such, but – in normal, non-covid – times, worth checking out the parade if the kids, or the kid inside you are into fire engines, old and new, big and small, four wheeled and four legged ! Fire Fighters Day coincides with International Firefighters’ Day, established in 2002. Usually there is a parade around the Rynek of firefighters, on horseback, vintage and contemporary fire appliances.
Majówka events in Kraków
A number of events and performances are taking place over the holiday weekend, including, concert of patriotic songs, walks and family events, OFFCamera – a celebration of independent cinema and a variety of cultural performances.
Friday 28th April
16th edition of the Mastercard OFF CAMERA festival
Since 2008, Mastercard OFF CAMERA has been promoting independent cinema from all over the world. Time for the festival’s 16th birthday and a new opening. The festival started on 28th April and will run until 7th May.
Sunday 30th April
Beltaine Fire Festival
Tuesday 2nd May
On roller skates and scooters for white and red (dla biało-czerwonej)
Participants of the family event “For the white and red” will ride through the streets of Krakow on roller skates, roller skates, scooters and skateboards and in white and red costumes .
The meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, 2nd May, at 12.00 in the yard of the Youth Center at ul. Krupnicza 38, and the start at 12.30. Commemorative diplomas, discount cards and patriotic materials are provided for the participants.
Detailed information (regulations, route map) can be found here.
Parade of Vintage & historic cars & buses
This year, the Flag Day celebrations will begin with a ride of historic buses and cars around Planty. At 11am they will travel along the streets of Lubomirskiego, Rakowicka, Lubicz, Basztowa, Podwale, Straszewskiego, Franciszkańska, Dominikańska, Westerplatte, Basztowa, Szpitalna and reach the Small Market Square.
Wednesday 3rd May
Official Parade and wreath laying ceremonies
Various locations then Pl Matejki
On Wednesday, the celebration of the anniversary of the adoption of the Constitution of May 3th will begin with the laying of flowers – first, together with the authorities of the Jagiellonian University, the voivode will lay flowers at 3 pm. 9 at the Hugo Kołłątaj Monument, then at the Monument to the Fighting Polish Soldiers in Powiśle.
At. At 10 a.m., a holy mass will begin in the Wawel Cathedral, after which a solemn patriotic procession will set off from the Hill. The gathered will stop at the Katyń Cross on Plac im. Adam Studziński, then they will cross ul. Grodzka, through the Market Square, ul. Floriańska to Jan Matejko Square. There, in front of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, the national anthem will be sung. A solemn changing of the guard will take place and the Appeal of Remembrance will be read. Then, the Governor of Lesser Poland, Łukasz Kmita, will present state decorations and certificates of acquisition of Polish citizenship.
At the end, there will be a parade of vehicles representing uniformed services and horse formations.
84th Kraków Patriotic songs, ‘singing lesson’
“May Dawn” („Majowa Jutrzenka”) – is the title of the 84th Krakow Singing Lesson, (Lekcja Śpiewania), which will take place on Wednesday, 3rd May, at 5.00 p.m. in Mały Rynek. Patriotic songs will be performed during the concert with the participation of the artists of the Loch Camelot Theatre with the audience joining in with a sing along. The lesson will be conducted by Waldemar Domański – the initiator of the event and the director of the Polish Song Library.
2000 Polish flags will be handed out to help people get into the spirit and celebrate.
Ride of the “Patriotic tram”
On Wednesday, 3rd May – the traditional white and red tram will travel through the streets of Krakow, in which volunteers will hand out free songbooks of Polish patriotic songs, flags in national colours, leaflets, stickers etc.
Public Transport changes over the Holiday Weekend
For outdoor lovers, Park Bednarski and the Brine towers at Bagry and NowoHucki have recently re-opened and are worth a visit.
May weekend on the Vistula
Stands with regional assortment, foundations helping animals, as well as workshops, games, activities and competitions for the youngest – until May 3rd, May Day on the Vistula River lasts. The organisers invite you to the Czerwieński Boulevard, from ul. Smocza.
May weekend under the slogan of technosensitivity
Miele wooden stave washing machine, Picht typewriter for the visually impaired, Capello Roma luxury music system (geographically scaled), New World gas cooker, 1920s built-in Electrolux refrigerator, Fön hair dryer, Polski Fiat 508 car, computer Odra 1305, or probably the only surviving copy of the minicomputer PSPD 90 made in Krakow. These and other unique objects are waiting for a new permanent exhibition at the Museum of Engineering and Technology in Krakow.
Full details of all of the above events, and more can be found at krakow.pl
Have a great Majówka!
A Scot in Kraków. The founder and editor of Kraków Expats Directory, and our sister sites Kraków TV and Kraków Stories Podcast.
David fell in love with Kraków 24 years ago, making it his home in 2011.
In 2020 he was awarded the title of Kraków’s Ambassador of Multiculturalism, by the President of Kraków, and is also a member of the GlobalScot network, representing Scottish culture and business abroad.
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