We celebrate Polish American Heritage Month in October, but it wasn’t always that way. Congress first deemed August as Polish American Heritage Month in 1981. Later, it moved to October to commemorate the first Polish settlers — as well as the deaths of General Kazimierz Pułaski and Tadeusz Kościuszko (military leaders who fought in the American Revolution). The switch also enabled schools to participate in celebrations. Whether you’re Polish American or not, it’s important to mark the culture of a people who helped shape this country.
Polish American Heritage Month - History
The oldest Polish American organization was created
A group of influential Polish Americans, including Father Vincent Barzynski, a pastor in Chicago, and Father Leopold Moczygemba, the founder of a Polish settlement in Panna Maria, Texas, established the Polish Roman Catholic Union of America.
The largest Polish immigration wave occurred
Upon the end of the Franco-Prussian War, a large group of people from Prussia immigrated to the United States.
Polish emigrants settled in Texas
The first Polish emigrants who came to Texas were from Silesians — the Prussian partition of Poland. They created an agricultural community that celebrated the traditions, customs, and language of their native country.
The New World’s first labor protest took place
After being denied voting rights, the Polish colonists led a protest.
The Polish came to the U.S.
The Jamestown colony attracted the first wave of Polish immigrants.
How to Observe Polish American Heritage Month
1. Try new Polish dishes
Whether you want to be brave in the kitchen or prefer to eat out, embrace Polish heritage by trying some of its many delicious delicacies. Love pork? Try golonka. For a hearty stew of meat, sauerkraut, and cabbage, consider making bigos. Looking for a classic? Opt for pierogi — the Polish version of a dumpling.
2. Get in touch with local organizations
Try searching for Polish American organizations in your area and help them put together events such as a Polish-speaking Mass service at a local church, Polish dance lessons, a screening of Polish films, or a Polish food cook-off.
3. Visit a museum
If you don't have one locally, visit Chicago, Detroit, New York ,or Philadelphia, and experience the Polish American museums they have to offer.
5 Deliciously Steamy Facts About Pierogi
1. They can be sweet or savory
Although the outside — a noodle dough — never changes, the filling can be savory (meat, potatoes, vegetables) or sweet (berries, chocolate, whipped cream).
2. Pierogi are served at significant events
As a staple of the Polish diet, pierogi are almost always served at Christmas and Easter; you can also find them at weddings and funerals.
3. There's one in the Guinness Book of World Records
Students from a Polish catering school earned a Guinness World Record after they made a 90-pound pierogi in 100 minutes.
4. The largest producer (still) of frozen pierogi in the U.S. was founded in Pennsylvania
Mary Twardzik and her son, Ted, began Mrs. T's Pierogies — a popular frozen pierogi company — in Shenandoah, PA in 1952.
5. The word pierogi is already in its plural form
Although you may sometimes see pierogi spelled with an "s" (i.e. pierogies — typically an English spelling), this is incorrect; the Polish word "pierogi" is the plural word for "pieróg."
Why Polish American Heritage Month is Important
A. It celebrates diversity
Polish American Heritage Month is the perfect opportunity to celebrate the heritage and culture of your ancestors. If you're not Polish American, that's okay, too. Look at the month of October as your chance to enrich your life by exposing yourself to a new culture.
B. It reminds us of our roots
This event is a great reminder of the positive impact Polish Americans had on our country back in the day, as well as the impact they continue to have today.
C. It gets you in touch with your past
If you're not part of a large Polish American community, then Polish American Heritage Month is the perfect time for you to connect with those who have a similar history. Whether you reach out to local clubs, attend a Polish American event, or try to learn Polish, there are plenty of opportunities out there.