Poland celebrates National Flag Day and anniversary of 3rd Silesian Uprising

On May 2, Poland celebrates National Flag Day and the 100th anniversary of the 3rd Silesian Uprising. The commemorative ceremony, with the participation of President Andrzej Duda, will take place on Saint Anna's Mountain, which is the area where the largest battle between Polish insurgent units and the German Freikorps took place.

The 3rd Silesian Uprising broke out on the night of May 2-3, 1921, after the result of the plebiscite in Upper Silesia, unfavorable for Poland. It was the last of the three armed uprisings of the Polish population in the area. The uprising was headed by Wojciech Korfanty, an activist of Christian democracy.

Combat with the Germans lasted two months, and the most fierce battles were fought for Saint Anne's Mountain. In total, about 60,000 Poles took part in the uprising. After the fighting ceased, the Council of Ambassadors decided on a more favorable division of Silesia for Poland. From the plebiscite area inhabited by over 2 million people, 29 percent of the area and 46 percent of the population were attached to Poland.

The main commemorative ceremony is scheduled for noon, when the flag of the Republic of Poland will be ceremonially raised for Flag Day, which was introduced in 2004. To celebrate the day, all public administration buildings and many homes of Poles are adorned with the Polish flag.

The day is celebrated between International Workers’ Day on May 1 and May 3rd Constitution Day, two national holidays that are free from work. This year once again hotels remain closed and social distancing measures are still in place due to the coronavirus pandemic, so many Poles will spend the holidays close to home and most official celebrations have been cancelled.

The current Polish flag was adopted on February 9, 1990. However, King Vladislaus the Elbow-High (1320-1333) was the first king to introduce a royal banner of arms consisting of a red cloth emblazoned with the White Eagle of the Polish coat of arms.

The Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth (1569-1795) used a banner which combined the heraldic symbols of Poland and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, a white eagle in the case of Poland and the Pursuer (an armour-clad knight on horseback holding a shield and a sword) in the case of Lithuania. As both coats of arms consisted of white charges on a red field, the two colours were also combined on the banner.

In modern times, the Polish parliament officially adopted a red and white national cockade in 1831 while trying to regain its sovereignty from Russia by launching the November Uprising.

As Poland reappeared on the map following the First World War, the white and red flag was officially adopted by a fully independent Poland on February 9th 1990. The white colour is widely believed to represent peace while the red symbolises blood shed in the nation’s fight for independence.

May 2 is also The Day of the Polish Diaspora and Poles living abroad, a holiday introduced by the Senate in 2002. While almost 40 million Poles live in Poland, another 20 million with Polish roots are estimated to live abroad.