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Lesson Transcript

Culture Class: Holidays in Poland, Lesson 13 - National Independence Day
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 13, National Independence Day. In Polish, it’s called Narodowe Święto Niepodległości.
Every year on November 11, Independence Day is celebrated in Poland. This day is celebrated to remind Polish people of their dramatic history, and aims to unite citizens on many different levels.
Now, before we get into more detail, do you know the answer to this question-
What does the Warsaw marathon phrase "Run straight, curl the mustache” mean? A hint is that it has to do with the Marshal Józef Piłsudski.
If you don't already know, you’ll find out a bit later. Keep listening.
National Independence Day is the most important national holiday, or święto narodowe, in Poland. It’s celebrated on November 11, but has only actually been celebrated consistently since 1989. Why so late? This is because Poland has a very dramatic history. From 1772 on, Poland fell victim to attacks from three countries—Russia, Prussia and Austria, which resulted in three partitions of Poland. The end result was the seizure of all Polish lands and the disappearance of Poland from the map of Europe for 123 years. Thanks to the steadfastness, or wytrwałość, and patriotism, or patriotyzm, of the people, the Poles finally regained their niepodległość or independence, under the leadership of Marshal Józef Piłsudski.
In 1937, November 11 was established as a national holiday. However, until the outbreak of World War II, when Poland was invaded by Germany, this holiday was only celebrated twice. In the years 1939 - 1944, during the war and Nazi occupation, all Polish culture was destroyed, and any further displays of it forbidden. Likewise, in the following years, when Poland was under the control of the USSR, all patriotic demonstrations were suppressed. Finally, after the fall of communism, or komunizm, this holiday was restored in 1989 and has been celebrated every year since.
Today, the celebration of National Independence Day in Warsaw takes place mostly in Piłsudski Square by the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Polish flags are hung up all around, including on buildings and special flag poles. In Warsaw and other major cities, marches, parades, and political speeches are organized. For those who are not interested in lofty speeches or assemblies, other events are also organized that aim at creating a sense of unity among the people.
One of the most interesting ways of celebrating this day is the Warsaw Independence Run, which in 2012 registered a record number of over 7,000 participants. Each participant receives a medal and certificate acknowledging their completion of the race. At the start, all runners make the formation of a living Polish flag, which is a truly amazing sight.
Now it's time to answer our quiz question-
What does the Warsaw marathon phrase "Run straight, curl the mustache” mean?
This phrase is a playful form of respect and affection for Polish history, in which Józef Piłsudski, who had a very distinctive mustache, played a big part. In remembrance of Pilsudski, marathon participants who grow or stick on a fake distinctive mustache get the chance to win great prizes.
So listeners, how did you like this lesson? Did you learn anything interesting?
How does your country celebrate Independence Day?
Leave us a comment letting us know at PolishPod101.com!
And I’ll see you in the next lesson!