November is the month when Poles honor and remember their past: All Saints’ Day, Nov. 1st, All Souls’ Day, Nov. 2nd, and National Independence Day, Nov. 11th.
All Saints’ Day, Nov. 1st and All Souls’ Day, Nov. 2nd
All Saints’ Day (Dzień Wszystkich Świętych) is a Christian festival honoring all saints, known and unknown. All Souls’ Day (Zaduszki or Dzień Zaduszny) is a Christian day commemorating all the dead.
In Poland, Zaduszki (All Souls’ Day) is one of the most important family holidays. Beginning on the evening of Nov. 1st, families visit the graves of their loved ones, bringing flowers and lighting votives.
National Independence Day, Nov. 11th
In the late 18th century, Poland was partitioned by the Habsburg Empire, the Kingdom of Prussia and the Russian Empire, ceasing to exist as a sovereign nation. National Independence Day (Narodowe Święto Niepodległości) celebrates the restoration of Poland as a nation following the defeat of the German, Austrian and Russian empires in WWI.
After the presentation of all the ceremonial wreaths, a historical reenactment was staged. This reenactment told the story of Poland from before the partitions of the 1790s to the end of WWI. There wasn’t a playbill at the event, so in the following captions I will describe the events as best I can based on my limited knowledge of Polish history.