Poland’s Day of the Flag

The Day of the Flag is celebrated on 2nd May. On this Day, Poles reflect upon the long history of the red and white national colours and proudly display flags outside their houses.

Polish national colours are one of the few in the world of heraldic origin. They derive from the colours of the coat of arms of the Kingdom of Poland and the coat of arms of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. In the Polish flag, the white symbolises the white of the Eagle, which features on the coat of arms of Poland, and the white of the Pursuer – a knight galloping on horseback, which features on the coat of arms of Lithuania. Both charges are on a red shield. On the flag, white is placed in the upper part and red in the lower because in Polish heraldry, the tincture of the charge has priority over the tincture of the field.

The red and white colours were first recognised as national colours on 3 May 1792, on the first anniversary of the signing of the Constitution of 3 May. They were officially adopted as the colours of the Polish State by the Sejm of the Kingdom of Poland in 1831 during the November Uprising. After Poland regained independence, the appearance of the Polish flag was confirmed by the Legislative Sejm on 1 August 1919.

The Polish Flag Day has been officially celebrated since 2004. On this day, numerous patriotic campaigns are organised to remind of the red and white national colours. In the recent years, the national brooch – a white and red rosette worn by the insurgents in the 19th century – has returned to grace. Today Poles pin it to their clothes during national celebrations.

May 2nd is also considered as Polish Diaspora and Poles Abroad Day.

In 2002, the Sejm of the Republic of Poland established the Polish Diaspora and Poles Abroad Day  to be celebrated on 2 May. This initiative recognised the “long-standing achievements and contribution of the Polish diaspora and Poles abroad in helping Poland regain its independence, loyalty and attachment to their identity, as well as assistance to the homeland in its most difficult moments.”

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs reports that today between 18-20 million Poles and people of Polish origin live outside the country. Many of them are people who remained in the eastern territories after the state’s borders shifted. Others, modern migrants, make up the current Polish community in Western countries. The largest Polish community abroad lives in the United States, where over 9.6 million people declared to be of Polish origin in 2012.

These are the words of Minister of Foreign Affairs Jacek Czaputowicz’s that wishes on Polish Diaspora and Poles Abroad Day

Ladies and gentlemen,

2 May is a special day for all Poles, both for those living in the country and abroad. Polish Diaspora and Poles Abroad Day, which we celebrate today, is an expression of remembrance and appreciation for our compatriots, who continue to preserve their identity and keep ties with their homeland, and who cultivate and promote our traditions and cultural heritage around the world.

I would like to wish you all personal and professional success, as well as inexhaustible strength in promoting a positive image of Poland in the world. You are the ambassadors of Polish affairs, and your efforts deserve special support of government institutions.

On this special day, I would like to stress that the integration of the Polish communities remains one of the key priorities of our government’s policy. I believe that this year’s centenary of Poland regaining its independence presents a unique opportunity to achieve this goal.

Once again, let me thank you for your efforts in promoting Polish heritage and instilling Polish identity in younger generations.