11th September is a special day for Polish people as it reminds us getting back our Independence in 1918 after our country disappeared from the map for 123 years. It is celebrated as a nationwide holiday. Polish towns and cities organise ceremonious gatherings and parades. A change of guards also occurs at midday near the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in the capital city. Many churches celebrate with a special mass. Another interresting event is the Race of Independence, which involves a lot of participants.
As it is an official public holiday in Poland, schools, banks, government offices and most private businesses are closed. There is a trade prohibition on public holidays in Poland. If you are going to travel with public transport remember to check with the public transit authorities for changes to time schedules.
Poland regained its independence after 123 partitions by Austria-Hungary, Germany, and Russia. On November 11, 1918, the Polish Military Organization’s secret departments, demobilized soldiers, and legionnaires disarmed the Germans in Warsaw and other Polish towns. The Regency Government appointed Józef Pilsudski as commander in chief over the Polish forces and 3 days later he was given complete civil control. He formed a new centralized government which on November 21 issued key measures including a manifesto of agricultural reforms. Pilsudski also brought in more favorable conditions for the workers and called parliamentary elections.
November 11 was announced a national holiday in 1937. However, it was removed as an official holiday from 1939 to 1989. The holiday was restored in 1989 and has since been a national public holiday.
During that day many houses, buildings, buses and trams display Polish flags. The Polish flag has 2 horizontal stripes of equal width and height – the upper stripe is white and the lower one is red. It was officially recognized in 1919, one year after Poland’s independence was regained.