- May 9, 2023
Polishness Parade in the heart of Vilnus
On the 6th of May, Vilnius traditionally turned white and red. The parade of the Polish community and Poles in Lithuania marched through the main streets of the capital. The solemn parade was dedicated to the Day of the Polish Diaspora and Poles Abroad and the Constitution of May 3.
– The parade is an expression of pride in being a Pole in Lithuania and a demonstration of our unity, a reminder to fellow citizens, Lithuanians, about the presence of many thousands of Poles in our country, that as the largest national minority we co-create the country in which we live. The parade was a nice accent of the celebration of the 700th anniversary of Vilnius, it took place on the 30th anniversary of the apostolic visit of Pope John Paul II to our homeland – Edward Trusewicz, vice-president of the Union of Poles in Lithuania, president of the European Union of Polish Communities, organizer procession, emphasizes in an interview with Vilnius Courier.
Thousands of Poles living in Lithuania walked along Gediminas Avenue, Zamkowa Street, next to the Presidential Palace, Vilnius University, the Embassy of the Republic of Poland, reaching the Gate of Dawn.
Poles in Lithuania love Poland
“It’s a great holiday. The crowds we see today are a sign that Poles in Lithuania love Poland and respect their culture. Nice to see so many young people here. I came all the way from Turgiel with my grandchildren. Everyone here feels like one big family. I am proud to be a Pole in Lithuania, and my children and grandchildren are also brought up in the spirit of Polishness- says Bożena Jurołajć in an interview with Vilnius Courier.
Poles from the Vilnius Region and further corners of Lithuania, guests from the Motherland and countrymen representing the Polish community scattered around the world walked in the festive parade. Polish schools, artistic groups, organizations, local governments and communes were represented in large numbers.
— I am here as a Pole living in Lithuania. I came here five years ago. My husband studied in Poznań, and he is from Vilnius. We came here after the wedding. To be honest, I feel at home. Every year we take part in the parade and every year there are more and more people. My husband is just taking pictures to show my parents in Poznań, because words cannot describe it – Magdalena shares her impressions in an interview with Vilnius Courier.
The Polishness Parade has been organized since 2004 by the Association of Poles in Lithuania on the occasion of the Polish Diaspora and Poles Abroad Day.
The white and red parade was attended by representatives of 14 branches of ZPL from all over the country and numerous Polish social organizations, Polish schools and kindergardens, and artistic groups. Leaders of the Polish community in Lithuania, MPs from the Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania – Union of Christian Families (EAPL-CFA), councilors of this party, as well as the new Polish ambassador in Vilnius, Konstanty Radziwiłł, head of the consular section of the Embassy of the Republic of Poland, Consul Irmina Szmalec, Senators Halina Biada and Ryszard Majer, MPs Janusz Kowalski and Jarosław Krajewski, as well as the Marshal of the Mazowieckie Voivodeship Adam Struzik.
Holy Mass and concert of the song and dance ensemble „Mazowsze”
Traditionally, the symbolic culmination of the Polish parade was the Holy Mass. in the Gate of Dawn by the miraculous painting of Our Lady of the Gate of Dawn. The Mass was celebrated by priests from Vilnius and Poland. The solemn service was graced with singing by the choir of the State Folk Song and Dance Ensemble “Mazowsze” im. T. Sygietyński..
The concert of the song and dance ensemble “Mazowsze” – one of the world’s largest artistic ensembles, a pearl in the crown of the Republic of Poland, the ensemble that cultivates what is most beautiful in Polish culture – was also the culmination of the ceremony at the Town Hall Square in Vilnius.
The Day of the Polish Diaspora and Poles Abroad has been celebrated on the 2nd of May since 2002. The holiday was established “in recognition of the legacy of many centuries, achievements and contribution of the Polish community and Poles abroad to regaining independence by Poland”.
A broader report from the Polishness Parade will be included in the next magazine issue of Vilnius Courier.
Translated by Dominika Mucha within the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.