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Poland marks Constitution Day

03.05.2024 07:13
Poland marks Constitution Day, a public holiday celebrating a historic document adopted on 3 May, 1791.
Polish President Andrzej Duda promotes military officers during a ceremony in Warsaw on Friday.
Polish President Andrzej Duda promotes military officers during a ceremony in Warsaw on Friday.Photo: PAP/Paweł Supernak

The presidential couple, government and parliament representatives, as well as Warsaw authorities and top military bras are to take part in celebrations in the Polish capital.

In the morning, Polish President Andrzej Duda is set to promote three senior military officers to the rank of general, during a ceremony at the presidential palace.

Later in the morning, the president is to attend a mass at Warsaw's Saint John's Archcathedral, and at noon, the celebrations are to continue at the capital’s Castle Square.

May 3 is a public holiday in Poland that celebrates a historic constitution the country’s legislators adopted on May 3, 1791.

Poles proudly point out that the progressive document was the first modern constitution in Europe and the second worldwide, after the American Constitution, which was created in 1787.

The pioneering Polish constitution is described by historians as one of the proudest achievements in Polish history, with many saying that the constitution’s provisions – if put into practice – would have changed the course of the nation’s history.

But reforms and liberties proposed in the document – including religious tolerance and the separation of powers – were viewed with suspicion in neighbouring countries, especially in light of the French Revolution raging at the time.

The Polish reforms were seen as a threat to the European status quo by Russia, Austria and Prussia, historians say, and the adoption of the constitution hastened the dismemberment of Poland by these countries.

After a series of partitions, Poland in 1795 lost its sovereignty for 123 years. It re-emerged as an independent state on November 11, 1918, the day World War I ended.

Poland marks Constitution Day on May 3, while November 11 is Independence Day, commemorating the anniversary of the restoration of Poland's sovereignty.