This Sunday Nov. 11, marks the centennial of Polish independence, and a series of cultural events in NYC will mark the occasion over the next two weeks. “Sto lat” translates to “100 years” in Polish and is the common phrase to wish someone happy birthday.
The U.S. helped secure Poland’s independence at the end of World War I when President Woodrow Wilson expressed America’s support for a Polish state in his Fourteen Points peace plan. Today, Polish and American relations are generally considered strong: President Andrzej Duda recently offered $2 billion toward constructing an American military base to be named “Fort Trump” in Poland.
The NYC Council voted earlier this month unanimously to recognize important Polish cultural figures and dates. Resolution 420 establishes Nov. 11 as Polish Independence day in NYC; Resolution 421 establishes Oct. 11 as Casimir Pulaski Day, and Resolution 422 establishes Tradeusz Kosciuszko Day as well in NYC.
While Greenpoint’s Polish population has declined in recent years, restaurants such as Karczma (136 Greenpoint Ave.) and Polka Dot (736 Manhattan Ave.) continue to thrive in our neighborhood that’s also home to the Polish and Slavic Center (176 Java St.), a non-profit cultural organization with around 40,000 members.
Greenpointers with Polish roots and others interested can celebrate with one of these events taking place over the next two weeks:
“In commemoration of the 100th anniversaries of the World War I armistice and the independence of Poland, the Society will present two 20th Century Polish masterworks. Górecki’s Euntes ibant et flebant (“They who go forth and weep) is sung in Latin by an a cappella chorus, and Szymanowski’s Stabat mater infuses the traditional liturgical text of with Polish folk rhythms and melodies. The concert concludes with Vaughan Williams’s Dona nobis pacem, which looks back at recent wars and makes a plea for peace even as a new war threatens.”
An open postcard project hosted by the Polish Cultural Institute in New York, STO LAT, POLSKA! A POSTCARD TO POLAND, is asking participants to upload a picture to create a postcard with a message for Poland, with a shot at winning airfare to Poland if you submit by Nov. 9.
From Nov. 15 – 19, a citywide program sponsored by Poland’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs called “Paderewski Days in New York,” will bring a series of concerts, lectures and art shows throughout the city, including Nov. 18 at the Polish and Slavic Center in Greenpoint, when a cultural celebration takes place featuring a piano recital performed by Jakub Kuszlik, and the unveiling of a commemorative sculpture of Ignacy Jan Paderewski, created by sculptor, Andrzej Renes.