With 2023 off to a great start, what can we expect that’s new and exciting? Why not begin with a quick review of the Polish personas that were selected by the Polish Senate for this New Year? I enjoyed the research last year, so I hope to make it an annual share as long as I am in office. Nicolaus Copernicus, Wisława Szymborska, Jan Matejko and Włodzimierz Przerwa-Tetmajer were the prominent Poles selected, with an additional tribute to the Heroes and Heroines of the Warsaw Ghetto.
The year 2023 is the 550th anniversary of the birth and the 480th of the death of the great Polish astronomer and creator of the heliocentric theory, Nicolaus Copernicus, or in Polish, Mikołaj Kopernik. Heliocentrism is the astronomical model of the universe that placed the Sun rather than Earth at its center. The Senate of the Republic of Poland designated this the Year of Nicolaus Copernicus to “raise awareness of Poland’s and Poles’ worldwide contributions to science and to strengthen the contemporary aspirations of the world of science and education for the subjective presence of science in Polish social, economic and political life” [Polish Science.pl]. One of the most important astronomers in history, Copernicus was also a multilinguist and translator, Renaissance polymath, mathematician, physician, classics scholar, economist, diplomat, and governor. He was gifted and extensively educated studying at the Academy of Cracow, Bologna, Ferrara, and Padua. Copernicus had a doctorate in canon law.
On the occasion of her 100th birthday in 2023, Wisława Szymborska (1923-2012) is second of the four distinguished Poles honored by the Polish Senate. Wisława Szymborska was a Polish poet, essayist, translator, and recipient of the 1996 Nobel Prize in Literature. In 1945, she began studying Polish literature before switching to sociology at Jagiellonian University. There, she became involved in the local writing scene and met the 1980 Nobel Prize in Literature recipient, Czesław Miłosz. In 1996, Szymborska received the distinction and it was Miłosz who was one of the first people to congratulate her. Her 2023 honor is ‘for poetry that with ironic precision allows the historical and biological context to come to light in fragments of human reality’.” [Source:nobelprize.org # Poland Daily 24 # wikipedia.org]
The third distinguished honoree for 2023 is one of the most famous painters in the history of Poland and the most distinguished creator of history painting, Jan Matejko (1838-1893). The Polish Senate selected this outstanding artist because of his consistent pursuit of his mission, embodying the spirit of civic service to his beloved Poland. “Matejko’s works aim was to show the causes of the fall of the First Polish Republic and to remind its glorious past and former power. In this way, he convinced Poles living under the partitions of the value of their cultural heritage and sustained efforts to regain independence.” Educated at the School of Fine Arts in Krakow, as well as at universities in Munich and Vienna, Matejko was the recipient of numerous prestigious prizes and distinctions and became an honorary member of many art academies. He was also involved in the conservation of Krakow’s monuments. Jan Matejko’s pupils included prominent artists of the Young Poland movement, such as Stanisław Wyspiański, Jacek Malczewski and Józef Mehoffer. Photo 3. [May Third painting – By Jan Matejko – National Museum of Poland Catalogue]
On the 100th anniversary of his death, Włodzimierz Przerwa-Tetmajer (1861-1923) was a Polish painter and graphic artist; one of the leading representatives of Young Poland; politician (people’s and independence activist). He studied at the School of Fine Arts in Kraków, then in Vienna, Munich, and Paris. After returning to Poland, he settled in Bronowice near Kraków. It was in his house that the famous Wyspiański work Wesele (The Wedding) took place. He also collaborated with Jan Styka and Wojciech Kossak on “Panorama Racławicka.” His works have been shown at world exhibitions in Chicago, San Francisco, and Paris. He is also the author of stained glass, polychrome, illustrations, and stage designs, as well as many short stories, poems, and the drama ‘Piast.’
In addition, the year 2023 marks the 80th anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. “We believe that establishing 2023 as the Year of Remembrance of the Warsaw Ghetto Heroes and Heroines will not only allow us to recall their testimonies, but will also become an opportunity to reflect on values common in the discourse, such as security, home, freedom, which we take for granted, but only discover their true importance and meaning when they become threatened,” Senate of the Republic of Poland proclaimed. A law paid tribute to the memories of those who died, and those who survived and “raised their voice of protest against the criminal plans for the extermination of the nation to the end of their days.”
Our history lesson for this issue is complete, but I would be remiss if I did not mention the following who were also honored but by the Polish Sejm (Lower house of Parliament): Aleksander Fredro, Wojciech Korfanty, Maurycy Mochnacki, Jerzy Nowosielski, Aleksandra Piłsudska, Paweł Edmund Strzelecki, i Jadwiga Zamoyska. I hope that you look up each of these distinguished citizens of Poland and their contribution to its culture.
The Polish Teachers Association was honored by the local Polish daily newspaper, Dziennik Związkowy, on Wednesday, January 18, at Allegra Banquets in Villa Park. Representing the PRCUA was President Robaczewski and Sec-Treas. Agnieszka Bastrzyk. We applaud the “PTA” with Ewa Koch at the helm for this distinction as well as the 46 schools who are its members. 2022 marked the 70th Anniversary of Zrzeszenie Nauczycieli Polskich w Ameryce. The “PTA” will continue to celebrate its Platinum Anniversary with a Forum and Banquet the second weekend in February. Bravo! Bis! (Also, congratulations are extended to the Dziennik Związkowy on its 115th Anniversary!).
The year of PRCUA’s 150th Celebration commenced with the Wesoły Lud Winter Dinner Dance on January 21. After a three year hiatus, the ensemble hosted its dance party and the stars were out, dressed to the nines. After a bi-lingual welcome by Joanna Niedzielski and Wiesława Wildhirt, President Robaczewski inspired the guests to “be involved, stay involved and get others involved” and make this Sesquicentennial Year one for the books – in membership! Danielle Kroplewski, Assistant to the Artistic Director and Choreographer, Richard Jaminski, emceed the dance program. In honor of Polish Grandparents’ Day, the Babcias and Dziadzias among our guests were honored as well as all those born in the month of January (especially those reaching milestones – our very own Liz Dynowski celebrated her Golden birthday (1/15). Happy birthday Liz, Irena, Wacek, Krysia, Vickie, Ewa, and others. Sto Lat!) Also representing the PRCUA were: yours truly, Sec-Treas. Agnieszka Bastrzyk accompanied by her family, Directors: Elizabeth Dynowski and Myron Cislo (D-8), Ewa Cholewinski (D-7), and the Officers of District 8: President James Rustik, VP Krystyna Lech, Secretary Danielle Kroplewski, Treasurer Michael Dziadkowiec, and Sergeant-at-arms Diane Cortesi. The Adult Culture Group was also represented and included: President Edward Muszalski and his wife Angie, Treasurer Wally Dynowski and Charter Member Mary Brzezniak. The dance program included the Polonaise performed by Parents and Lud members, suites of dances and songs from Eastern Kraków and Żywiec Mountain, and of course, Eddie Blazonczyk and the Versatones’ Celebration Polka. The party went on until the lovely owners of Camelot Banquets, Joann and Chris, said “Stop Kapela!”
Although it was Bon Voyage for Richard and me as we sailed to the Virgin Islands, but the events continued. The Adult Culture Group hosted its Afterglow on Sunday, January 22, on the heels of its most successful 50th Cinderella-Prince Charming Ball, commencing its next big venture, the annual Fashion Show (3/12). Stay tuned!
The month ended with the Studniówka organized by Polish Teachers Association and hosted by one of its affiliates. Sec-Treas. Bastrzyk will represent the PRCUA and bring me up to speed, so I give you complete details. Former D-5 Director Mitch Bienia and the PAC Ohio Division with sponsorship, among others, the PRCUA, was a member of the Debutante and Cavalier Ball in Cleveland. Both events were held on January 28. Details and photos to follow.
SIDE NOTE: National Grandparents Day has been celebrated in the US on the first Sunday after Labor Day since 1978. In Poland, Dzień Babci (Grandma’s Day) on January 21st was first launched in 1965 and a Dzień Dziadka (Grandpa’s Day) was added on January 22nd. Both are relatively new occasions, but grandparents’ help with child raising and household chores was already known centuries ago. In Polonia, Dziadkowie (grandparents) were often a repository of our ancestral heritage. Polish-born grandparents were best suited to pass down the family history and Old World lore – customs, traditions, prayers, lullabies, nursery rhymes, recipes and assorted notions and practices. (Robert Strybel).
As February draws near and the marathon of dances and balls continue, I want to wish you all a very Happy Valentine’s Day! a delicious Pączki Day (or two – Poland celebrates on Fat Thursday and USA on Mardi Gras – you only live once, have two)! Happy Presidents’ Day! And as we begin Lent, a solemn and quiet time to reflect on all the good in the world and to pray for peace.