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Święto Pracy: Celebrating Labor Day in Poland

For Labor Day, Poland consistently gets a whopping three-day weekend to relax, celebrate, and protest for more workers’ rights. But this holiday doesn’t resonate well with everyone!

In this article, you’ll learn about Labor Day traditions and history in Poland, and pick up some useful vocabulary words along the way.

Let’s get started.

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1. What is Labor Day?

Someone Holding a Wrench in Their Hand against a Red Background

International Labor Day is a public holiday in Poland, and is also part of the Majówka (May holidays). Because May 3 is another major holiday in the country, many people take not one day off, but at least three.

In Poland, Labor Day is a day for workers to odpoczywać (“rest” ) from their normal day-to-day duties. Some people take advantage of this day to demonstrate for more employees’ rights or to simply honor the working class. Perhaps most importantly, Labor Day is associated with patriotyzm (“patriotism” ), considering that May 3 is Poland’s Constitution Day.

Despite the laid-back nature of this holiday today, there’s a lot of controversy in Poland regarding Labor Day. This is because, during the communist rule in Poland, Labor Day was largely associated with the communist agenda and was one of the most important holidays at the time.

    → Study our vocabulary list for Jobs / Work to learn some practical Labor Day words!

2. When is Labor Day?

A Man Relaxing on the Couch

Each year, Poles celebrate Labor Day on May 1. This is the same date as the rest of the world, except for the United States, which celebrates on the first Monday of September.

3. Labor Day Traditions & Celebrations in Poland

A Group of People Having a Picnic Together

On Labor Day, Poland has plenty of time to relax, because Labor Day is part of a długi weekend (“long weekend holiday” ).

During this time, cities compete with each other based on the number of attractions, organizing picnics, concerts, performances, exhibitions, fairs, tastings of regional dishes, and reconstructions of historical events. During the picnic in the Mazovia region, the region’s largest knightly tournament takes place, while at the Museum of Battle of Grunwald, people can watch an International Horseback Archery Competition.

A favorite tradition is to spędzać czas z rodziną (“spend time with family” ), often outdoors in the fresh spring air. Many families go on a picnic together (usually with BBQ food!), or sometimes a longer trip to somewhere outside their city or town. Though not as common as it once was, some places in Poland still hold Labor Day parades and demonstrations for more workers’ rights.

As we mentioned earlier, Labor Day is considered a patriotic holiday. Many people decorate their buildings or homes with the Polish flag!

    → We have vocabulary lists on Cooking and Polish Foods. Check them out to learn some related words and phrases. 😉

4. Making Up for Lost Time

This long Labor Day weekend sounds great, until you realize that one of the days (May 2) isn’t actually a holiday. How do Poles make up for losing this normal workday?

Usually, Poles need to go into work on a designated weekend day in order to make up for this lost time. But it’s well worth it for three days off in a row!

5. Must-Know Vocabulary for Labor Day in Poland

Someone Wearing a Shirt with the Polish Flag Colors

Ready to review some of the vocabulary words from this lesson? Here’s a list of the most important words and phrases for Labor Day in Poland!

  • Odpoczywać — “Rest” [v.]
  • Święto Pracy — “Labor Day” [n. neut]
  • Flaga — “Flag” [n. fem]
  • Patriotyzm — “Patriotism” [n. masc]
  • Dzień wolny od pracy — “Day off” [n. masc]
  • Robotnik — “Worker” [n. masc]
  • Pochód — “March” [n. masc]
  • Uczcić — “Celebrate” [v.]
  • Długi weekend — “Long weekend holiday” [n. masc]
  • Majówka — “Picnic” [n. fem]
  • Spędzać czas z rodziną — “Spend time with family”
  • Protest — “Protest” [n. masc]
  • Biało-czerwony — “White-and-red” [adj.]

To hear the pronunciation of each word and phrase, and to read them alongside relevant images, be sure to check out our Polish Labor Day vocabulary list!

Final Thoughts

We hope you enjoyed learning about Labor Day in Poland with us, and that you took away some valuable information.

How do you celebrate Labor Day in your country? Are Labor Day traditions similar or very different from those in Poland? We look forward to hearing from you in the comments!

If you’re interested in learning more about Polish culture and the language, check out the following pages on PolishPod101.com:

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Happy Labor Day! 🙂

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