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How to Celebrate Nicolaus Copernicus’ Birthday in Poland

How to Celebrate Nicolaus Copernicus’ Birthday in Poland

Nicolaus Copernicus. You’ve probably heard that name before in school. But do you remember who he was exactly, and what he did? What world-changing ideas was Nicolaus Copernicus famous for?

In this article, you’ll learn about Nicolaus Copernicus’ greatest achievements, more interesting facts about him, and how Poland commemorates Nicolaus Copernicus’ birthday.

Are you ready? Let’s get started.

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1. Who was Nicolaus Copernicus?

Poles celebrate the astronomer Mikołaj Kopernik ( “Nicolaus Copernicus” ) each year on his birthday. Copernicus is most well-known for his heliocentryzm ( “heliocentrism” ) theory, which revolutionized astronomy. This is the theory that the sun is at the center of our galaxy, and that the planets obracać się wokół ( or “rotate around” ) the sun. While Nicolaus Copernicus’ heliocentric model faced lots of criticism when it was first proposed, it’s today the working model we use.

Nicolaus Copernicus’ astronomy achievements—particularly the publishing of his book De revolutionibus orbium coelestium—paved the way for later advances in astronomical science. Further, it both started the Copernican Revolution and contributed to the Scientific Revolution.

While Copernicus’ heliocentric model is perhaps his greatest achievement, this is far from all he accomplished in his lifetime. In addition to being an astronom (“astronomer”), Copernicus studied several other topics during his life and served in many different professions. These include, but aren’t limited to: a physician, an economist, and a translator.

2. Nicolaus Copernicus’ Date of Birth

Picture of Nicolaus Copernicus

Each year, Poles celebrate Nicolaus Copernicus’ birthday on February 19, the day he was born in 1473.

3. How Poles Mark Copernicus’ Birthday

Silhouette of Someone Looking Through a Telescope at Night

While there are no specific traditions or celebrations for Nicolaus Copernicus’ birthday, Poles do continue to venerate and honor him. In addition to specially marking Copernicus’ birthday, Poland is filled with numerous memorials of him.

For example, the Wrocław-Strachowice International Airport is named in honor of Copernicus. There are also two museums in Poland dedicated to him: Muzeum Mikolaja Kopernika in Frombork and the House of Nicolaus Copernicus Museum in Copernicus’ birthplace of Torun. Lastly, there are also Nicolaus Copernicus statues and monuments in Warsaw and Torun.

If you’re interested in learning even more Nicolaus Copernicus facts in his very own home country, be sure to check these places out!

4. Polish or German?

Did you know there’s some debate as to Nicolaus Copernicus’ nationality?

Copernicus was born in Royal Prussia—an area that was technically a part of the Kingdom of Poland—but grew up in a German-speaking family. He first went to school in Poland before going to a school in Italy and joining a group of German-speakers there.

While these nuances of Copernicus’ life make it difficult for modern-day scholars to determine his nationality, some people are uncertain that we should assign Copernicus a nationality. During the Renaissance period, people didn’t adhere to the concept of nationality the way we do today, and rather had firm attachments to the actual region they grew up in or associated themselves with. Some people make the claim that Copernicus, for this reason, would have called himself a Prussian.

So, was Copernicus Polish? German? Prussian? Something else altogether? And does it really matter?

What are your thoughts?

5. Must-Know Vocabulary for Nicolaus Copernicus’ Birthday

Einstein’s Theory of Special Relativity Written on a Blackboard

Ready to review some of the vocabulary words from this article? Here’s the essential Polish vocabulary for Nicolaus Copernicus’ birthday!

  • Słońce — “Sun”
  • Księżyc — “Moon”
  • Ziemia — “Earth”
  • Mikołaj Kopernik — “Nicolaus Copernicus”
  • Planeta — “Planet”
  • Galaktyka — “Galaxy”
  • Teoria — “Theory”
  • Wszechświat — “Universe”
  • Astronom — “Astronomer”
  • Ciało niebieskie — “Heavenly body”
  • Obracać się wokół — “Rotate around”
  • Heliocentryzm — “Heliocentrism”
  • Obserwować — “Observe”
  • Rewolucja — “Revolution”

Visit our Polish Nicolaus Copernicus’ Birthday vocabulary list to hear the pronunciation of each word, and to read them alongside relevant images.

Final Thoughts

The Polish people hold Nicolaus Copernicus in high regard, and are proud to call him a fellow Pole (despite the ambiguity around his technical nationality). We hope you enjoyed getting reacquainted with Copernicus, and that you learned something valuable about Polish culture.

Who are the most famous and well-respected people in your country, past or present? We look forward to hearing from you!

If you’re interested in learning more about Polish culture and holidays, you may find the following pages on useful:

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