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Lesson Transcript

Culture Class: Holidays in Poland, Lesson 11 - The Grand Finale of The Great Orchestra of Christmas Charity
Hello, and welcome to the Culture Class- Holidays in Poland Series at PolishPod101.com. In this series, we’re exploring the traditions behind Polish holidays and observances. I’m Michael, and you're listening to Season 1, Lesson 11 - The Grand Finale of The Great Orchestra of Christmas Charity. In Polish, it’s called Finał Wielkiej Orkiestry Świątecznej Pomocy.
In this lesson, we will discuss a very special day. It’s not a national holiday, not an old folk tradition, but rather an unusual phenomenon that has taken place on the second Sunday of the year ever since 1993. It is known as the Finale of the Great Orchestra of Christmas Charity, in short WOŚP.
Now, before we get into more detail, do you know the answer to this question-
What is the symbol used for the Great Orchestra of Christmas Charity?
If you don't already know, you’ll find out a bit later. Keep listening.
The Wielka Orkiestra Świątecznej Pomocy or The Great Orchestra of Christmas Charity was founded in 1993 by Jerzy Owsiak. The idea came about when in 1993, a group of cardiac surgeons appealed to the Polish people for datki, meaning donations, for the purchase of necessary equipment to operate on children with terminal diseases. Owsiak appealed for help on a television program he was hosting, and to his great surprise, people responded en masse. That’s how the idea to create the Great Orchestra of Christmas Charity was born. To date, there have been 22 editions of this Orchestra’s Finale, and it is now consistently been the largest charitable media and entertainment event in Poland.
During the Finale, free events and concerts are held all over Poland. A typical part of this event includes the collection of money by wolontariusze or volunteers. The event is broadcast on TVP 2 and TVN throughout the day, and everything that happens in the TV studio is directed by the always enthusiastic Jerzy Owsiak. At exactly 8 p.m, in all of Poland, lights are sent into the sky, in the form of lit candles, matches, sparklers, or fireworks, and at the Parade Square in Warsaw, a beautiful fireworks display is set off.
Apart from concerts and the collection of donations, auctions are held where various items donated by people from all over Poland and abroad are sold. Funds collected during each Finale are always intended for a predetermined purpose, usually related to saving children's lives. To date, the event has been held twice to collect donations for the early detection of cancer in children, once for saving the lives of newborns, once for the purchase of equipment for oncology clinics, and numerous times for many other purposes. Since 1993, the amount of donations collected has continuously grown, and by 2013 a total of about 130 million dollars had been raised.
The highlight of the Finale is the auction of the golden hearts, or złote serduszka in Polish, of which there are always 500 pieces, each with a date and the edition of the Finale written on them. The most expensive heart in history was auctioned in 2010 at 1,110,000 Polish złotych, which was around 390,000 US dollars at that time.
Now it's time to answer our quiz question-
What is the symbol used for the Great Orchestra of Christmas Charity?
Every year about 120,000 volunteers report to assist with the event. They can be seen in every city, holding cans for donations and wearing the Charity’s symbol, an iconic red heart sticker. Anyone who puts a donation into these cans receives a sticker.
How did you like this lesson? Did you learn anything interesting?
Does your country hold a charity event of this magnitude?
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See you next time!