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Constitution Day in Poland

Many people in Poland celebrate Constitution Day (Święto Konstytucji 3 Maja or Święto Narodowe Trzeciego Maja), which commemorates the enactment of the Polish Constitution that came into effect on May 3, 1791.

Is Constitution Day a Public Holiday?

Constitution Day is a public holiday. It is a day off for the general population, and schools and most businesses are closed.

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier - one of the landmarks in Warsaw, Poland
The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Warsaw - it is a popular place to visit in Poland on Constitution Day.
©iStockphoto.com/scubabartek

What Do People Do?

Constitution Day is part of a holiday season known as Majówka, which also includes the May 1/Labor Day holiday. It is celebrated with military parades, spring concerts and family picnics. Many people also gather at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier (Grób Nieznanego Żołnierza) at the Piłsudski Square in Warsaw. The monument is dedicated to unknown soldiers who gave their lives for Poland.

Public Life

Constitution Day is an official public holiday in Poland, so schools, banks, government offices and most private businesses are closed. There is a trade prohibition on public holidays in Poland. People intending to travel via public transport during public holidays must check with the public transit authorities on any changes to time schedules.

Background

On May 3, 1791, the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth’s constitution was adopted. It was the first constitution in modern Europe and second in the world, following the American one. It was a significant achievement of the Polish Enlightenment thinkers.

May 3 was established as a holiday only days after the constitution was passed by the Grand Sejm (Polish Parliament). It was later suspended for many years due to the country’s partitioning, but was reinstituted after Poland regained its freedom in 1918. After World War II, in 1946, the communist authorities banned the holiday’s public celebration. The holiday was officially cancelled in 1951. Since 1990 the May 3 holiday has again been celebrated as an official statutory holiday in Poland.

Constitution Day Observances

YearWeekdayDateNameHoliday Type
2010MonMay 3Constitution DayNational holiday
2011TueMay 3Constitution DayNational holiday
2012ThuMay 3Constitution DayNational holiday
2013FriMay 3Constitution DayNational holiday
2014SatMay 3Constitution DayNational holiday
2015SunMay 3Constitution DayNational holiday
2016TueMay 3Constitution DayNational holiday
2017WedMay 3Constitution DayNational holiday
2018ThuMay 3Constitution DayNational holiday
2019FriMay 3Constitution DayNational holiday
2020SunMay 3Constitution DayNational holiday

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