Cultural: August 15 - Day of Assumption/Armed Forces Day joint holiday
Today is another holiday here in Poland!
First - it's the Day of the Assumption of Mary (to Heaven)
This is a Roman Catholic holiday and an important one to faithful members of the Roman Catholic church. In short, it teaches that Mary didn't die - but she was taken to heaven by God - without dying. Pope Pius XII in 1950 declared this to be the case . The Bible does not indicate this to be the fact - as it doesn't address Mary's death at all specifically.
As a non Catholic, this was something I learned after being here in Poland. I wasn't familiar with the teaching before we came here.
Faithful Catholics will attend mass that day and celebrate it specially. Here in Poland there doesn't seem to be any special food connected with it as the stores aren't particularly packed with people shopping ahead of time unlike Easter and Christmas. People actually seem consumed with the idea of having a day off than actually celebrating anything spiritual. However, one time I was walking across the street to my garden (this day falls in the height of gardening season) and had junky clothes on and saw a group of people walking by who were all dressed up.
They looked at me rather strangely.
That was a few years ago, though. People are more open now than they were 10 years or so ago to how you want to celebrated a given holiday.
We also had people not want to work outside on this date - doing things like mowing grass or painting - when we were hiring young men to help us finish up our house many years ago.
Many people go on pilgrimages for 10-14 days before August 15 as they walk across Poland to get to a town in southern Poland by August 15 called Czestochowa. There is a famous icon/picture that Polish Catholics consider sacred and powerful - they call it the Black Madonna (that's for another post). The pilgrimages all try to arrive at this place on August 15. Many young people make these trips every year.
From our part of Poland it's quite a hike to get there! Google maps says it takes about 48 hours to walk to Czestochowa from here.
Stores will be closed today and only places like gas stations and some fast food restaurants will be open.
They made this holiday a Two-fer - combining another one with it.
Secondly - Poland celebrates Armed Forces Day today
There will be special celebrations in the center of towns/cities like Warsaw, Krakow, Lodz, honoring those who have died in battle with lots of politicians, parades and such.
Here's a you tube video with a parade from last Armed Forces day. it's very long, so you may not want to watch it all, but a glimpse will give you a bit of what it looks like here!
Overall, it's a pretty quiet day around here. This year it falls on a Wednesday so possibly people will take off 2 more days of work - Thursday/Friday and make it a long weekend. There was a lot of traffic outside as I wrote this on Tuesday evening--probably lots of people leaving the big city for family and the smaller towns/villages or even short get-aways to the mountains or lake region.
Interestingly enough, my son has his last Polish class today - Wednesday - something that wouldn't normally be even considered, but his teacher attends a Baptist church in the center of Warsaw (also almost unheard of) and there are only 3 in the class and none of the class members mind as it is the last day of class for them!
So, while you are hard at work today, people in Poland have it as a holiday!
And that's what's new from this part of the world! Have a great day!
Be sure to check out what my sis has for you in the store!