Tag Archives: Polish Flag

Polandian supports Poland’s Independence Day

polish_flag

Raising the Polish flag. Congratulations on 90 years

Ulica Retoryka is a long straight street. As I strolled down it in the November sunshine I could see the drama being played out from a considerable distance. Pan and Pani Kowalski, a pair of barely ambulatory octogenarians, were trying to put up their Polish flag for Independence Day. They were seriously hampered in this endeavor by the fact that than neither Pan nor Pani Kowalski were much above 5 foot (150 cm) in height and well beyond the age where standing jumps of more than a couple of millimeters are feasible. The buildings of this district are grand and have suitably grand entrances, which places the flag socket over the door a good 10 feet (3 m) above the ground. They had a step ladder, in fact they had two step ladders, but this wasn’t helping much.

Pan Kowalski climbed his ladder with glacial slowness and considerable trembling, flag gripped between his teeth, and completely failed to stretch far enough to reach the flag holder. Pani Kowalski snorted with laughter at this pathetic showing, grabbed the flag and proceeded to climb her own ladder with ever greater slowness and trembling, only to fail by the same margin. They were flailing around up there like a pair of demented apple scrumpers. The top of the door was taking a hammering but the shaft of the flag was coming nowhere near the mark. This to-ing and fro-ing up and down ladders accompanied by shrill bickering must have been repeated three or four times before I drew near. Pani Kowalski, perched at the top of her ladder, fixed me with a steely stare, noted my height and uttered the inevitable pleading “Proszę pana… !?”

And that’s how I came to raise the Polish flag on the eve of Polish Independence Day. It felt weirdly traitorous and patriotic at the same time. Does a Polish flag planted by an Englishman still count? Do I have to go and apologize to the Queen or something now? It’s a tricky area. Pani Kowalski was delighted by the whole concept and I left her gasping for breath between fits of laughter. Pan Kowalski was extremely polite in his thanks but I’m sure I detected a hint of wounded national pride. When he was born Poland itself was an infant of three or four years. I bet he never foresaw the day when he would have to depend on passing foreigners to put his flag up.

I’ve commented before on the generally short stature of Poles down here in the south, and my theory that this is due to excessive walking up and down mountains has been duly noted and accepted by the European Commission for Idiotic Theories. It turns out there is a downside. The most enthusiastic flag raisers are the elderly, who are also the shortest. They just can’t reach, even with a stepladder.

I’ve prepared a couple of simple graphics to illustrate the problem:

flag_problem1_babcia

Even with a pair of acrobatic babcie the flag holder is tantalizingly out of reach:

flag_problem2_babcia

Come next May I will be prepared with an ad in all the local papers:

Too short to put up your flag? Ladder not long enough?

Tall foreigners will come to your house and do it for you!

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It’s bank holiday weekend. Put the flags out!

The first, second and third day of May are all national holidays in Poland, which require the national flag to be displayed on all buildings. Fellow blogger Island1 has already introduced our readers to the May festivities in previous post.

I had a walk around the town this evening and I was amazed at how many different ways the flag is displayed. Could they all be correct? Let’s investigate…

First things first. What is the flag of Poland? There’s a special act regulating this matter, which includes specifications for dimensions and colours. In short the Polish flag looks like this:

The Flag Of Poland

Upper half white, lower half red. Simple. Elegant. Beautiful.

Things are never that simple. You may come across a situation when the flag also comprises of the Coat Of Arms of Poland.

making it look like this:

The Flag Of Poland With The Coat Of Arms

The second variant is also correct. It is, however, intended for use in Poland’s embassies in foreign countries, and on Polish ships. The reason is that the basic design is exactly the same as local flags of many regions around the world, such as Bohemia in the Czech Republic, Upper Austria or the Spanish province of Cantabria. The basic design is at the same time very similar to the flags of Monaco and Indonesia, both of which have the red bit in the upper half, while the lower half is white. The second design is used abroad in order to prevent things getting mixed up.
If you see the Flag with the coat of arms in a shop in Poland, don’t buy it. Go for the basic two-colour design.

If you are a home owner, even if you weren’t born in Poland, you might consider it a good idea to put the flag outside your property. However unlike public institutions you are not lawfully obliged to. If you do it, there are some official guidelines to follow (based on a Sejm Act, but again: there are no sanctions for not acting accordingly).
– The national flag may be on display from sunrise to sunset. Light should be installed if the flag is displayed longer;
– The national flag should be clean at all times, colour and pattern ought to be clear, the flag cannot be crumpled or frayed;
– The flag may not be put out in rainy days or in strong wind;
– The flag should not touch the ground or the base of the mast.

The law does not regulate the display of the European Union or other (for instance UK) flags. However priority should always be considered and the Polish flag should always have the prime location.

The Public Prosecutor’s Office in Toruń knows how to put out the flags correctly. They wouldn’t want to prosecute themselves would they?

Public Prosecutor\'s Office

Four basic-design flags.

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The Police Constabulary added the flag of the EU

Police Constabulary

Very well. The fourth anniversary of joining the EU is also well-worth commemorating. But shouldn’t the Polish flag be on the right? Mhmmm…

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Flag enthusiast.

Although the administrator of this apartment building did put a flag out in the front, this resident obviously though it wasn’t enough, and installed another on his own balcony. He or she is probably a good patriot. The second white and yellow flag is the flag of the Vatican State. It’s an indication that the person who lives here is a keen Roman Catholic (or the apartment is a mohair beret army headquarters).

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Flag heaven

Roman Catholic Church

The Roman Catholic Church is not most known for asceticism. The display of flags here is really generous. Two white and red Polish flags, and FOUR white and blue flags of the city of Toruń. The Polish flags are in the middle (thus: most important), everything is fine.
Maybe the reason for so many flags is that this church is making up for the Eastern Orthodox church on the other side of the road (not shown), which didn’t put any flags out at all?

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Primary School number 24 in Toruń (or Heroes of September 1939 Primary School)

EU flags not present, but two Polish flags are there. Everything is fine.

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International House Toruń – School of English

This is a school of English called International House, home to many English native speakers. If you take a closer look near the door, you still won’t know what the hell that flag is. Most certainly it is not the flag of Poland. This flag is actually an advertisement for the city’s bid for European Capital of Culture 2016. Why is it out there on a national holiday and not the proper flag?

International House – shame on you!

Accidentally this is also the school which taught me English for several years. You can blame my grammar mistakes on them. (Send your hate-mail to ul. Legionów 15, Toruń 87-100). :)

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Is it a ship? Is it a plane?

I assure you that this is not a Polish consulate on foreign soil, but a block of flats in Toruń. The administrator probably likes this style “better”.

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Think locally, act locally

This dated residence with an abandoned front garden is occupied by a really unfriendly dog. The owner decided to put out one city flag – and no national flag. Since there is no obligation to put out a Polish flag, while other flags are unregulated, such a case is permissible (since not forbidden)

* * *

If you put out a flag on national holiday, do it with consideration.

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Although the May holidays are the most celebrated, there are other opportunities for putting up the flag. Here is your Polish year-round flag-calendar:
– May the 18th, the day that commemorates the apprehension of Monte Casino, one of the major battles of the Second World War with a considerable Polish effort
– If you live in Poznań: June 28th, which commemorates the Poznań Protests of 1956
– If you live in Warsaw: August 1st, which commemorates the beginning of the 1944 Warsaw Rising
– anywhere in Poland: August 15th, which commemorates the winning 1920 Battle for Warsaw, one of the most important battles in World History
– August 31st – Solidarity and Freedom Day, which commemorates the establishment of “Solidarność” trade union, the first independent institution in communist world
– September 1st – 1939 German invasion on Poland, beginning of the Second World War, loss of independence for over 50 years
– September 17th – 1939 Soviet invasion on Poland
– November 11th – Independence Day, commemorates regaining independence in 1918 after 123 years of partitions
– December 13th – beginning of the Martial Law in 1981
– April 13th – World Day of Katyn Victims Remembrance
– April 19th – commemorates the beginning of the 1943 Warsaw Ghetto Rising

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My newsblog is never on holiday.

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