In addition to the National Flag Day, May 2 also marks the Day of Polish Communities and Poles Living Abroad. It is a holiday for some 20 million people who live abroad and acknowledge their Polish roots.
The holiday refers to the pre-war tradition of celebrating Immigrant’s Day on May 2 and is solemnly celebrated in all Polish communities around the world.
The largest group of emigrants and people of Polish descent – about 10 million people – live in the United States. Other large diasporas are in Brazil, Canada, France, Germany and Great Britain. There are also many people of Polish origin Lithuania, Belarus and Ukraine, among other countries.
Today, we also celebrate the Day of Polish Diaspora and Poles Abroad 🇵🇱🌍
The holiday was established in recognition of the contribution of the Polish community abroad to the restoration of Poland's independence, its loyalty and attachment to the Polish identity. pic.twitter.com/NQF0wB5U4p
— Chancellery of the Prime Minister of Poland (@PremierRP_en) May 2, 2023
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The Polish communities around the world derive from several waves of migration.
The first, after the national uprisings of the 19th century, headed mainly to France, Great Britain, Switzerland, Germany and North America.
The second was labor emigration in the second half of the 19th century until 1939, at which workers went mainly to France, Belgium and Germany, and farmers to the United States, Canada, Brazil and Argentina.
Another wave occurred as a result of World War II.
In the 1980s, there was a lot of emigration for economic and political reasons, especially after the imposition of martial law in 1981. The last wave was economic emigration after 1989, mainly to Great Britain, Ireland, Germany, Italy, Canada and the United States.
Polish diaspora’s role ‘cannot be overestimated’
A 2002 Senate resolution defines the state’s policy toward Poles residing abroad. It underlines the importance of ensuring their rights as a national minority, developing their native language and promoting Polish culture.
According to the document, the constitutional guardian of the diaspora is the Speaker of the Senate. The special role of the upper house in maintaining the national identity of Poles living abroad derives from the interwar tradition of patronizing exile.
“The role of the Polish Diaspora in maintaining ties with the country cannot be overestimated,” said Tomasz Grodzki, speaker of the Polish Senate.
“I want to thank you for cultivating Polish speech and traditions, for raising your children in the spirit of patriotism and love for the homeland,” he conveyed in his wishes to the Polish community and Poles abroad.
“No matter what fate has thrown you to other countries, other continents, on this day in particular we feel that we are together, united around the white-red colors,” he stressed.