Friday, May 3, 2013

May 3 - Polish Constitution Day

On May 3rd, the trees are bare, the weather cool and overcast, but for Globeville's Poles, nothing could dampen their enthusiasm for Polish Constitution Day, a day to demonstrate their national pride. The festivities would begin with Mass, followed by a parade with all the Polish fraternal organizations, glee clubs and dramatic societies marching down Washington Street, and culminating in an afternoon of food, patriotic speeches, singing and story telling. Members of nearby churches and fraternal lodges would also attend, as well as local politicians (particularly if an election was near). With celebrations like Polish Constitution Day, Poles would keep their homeland alive even as the nation itself had been nearly erased.
In the late 18th century, the Republic of Poland had been carved up by its powerful neighbors, Russia, Prussia and Austria. The next 100 years saw a relentless attack on the nation's identity, with each of the conquering powers restricting the Polish language, culture and religion, and requiring young men to serve in the armies of their oppressors. Seeking political and religious freedom, as well as economic opportunity, Poles began to emigrate to America, arriving in Globeville during the 1880s. 
In Globeville, Poles would form fraternal organizations to care for each other and perpetuate their heritage, and despite their limited financial means, build St. Joseph's Polish Catholic Church and School. Poles would relish the freedom to celebrate the Feast of Corpus Christi in June, the birthday of Casimir Pulaski in October, and the Christmas and Easter traditions dear to them.
Today, the Polish nation is again alive and Polish culture in Globeville is vibrant and robust, continued at St. Joseph's Polish Catholic Church and School.
St Joseph's Polish Catholic Church
Krakowiacy Polish Dancers

Polish Constitution Day, circa 1941
photos used with written permission from Jan Gisewski Garland

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