Celebrating Polish heritage

Dziedzictwo szczęśliwy Polski miesiąc. Or for those who do not speak Polish, happy Polish heritage month.  Unknown to some people, October is the official month celebrating Polish heritage.   It was first embraced as an unofficial celebration in 1981 in Philidelphia.  Five years later, in 1986, October was declared the official month of Polish heritage in the United States, as October was the month Polish people first entered Jamestown, Virginia.  This is the month we are encouraged to celebrate Polish heritage, and famous Polish-Americans.

Polish immigrants have steadily entered America since it first became a nation, however, leading up to World War I, was the some of the largest immigration waves to America.  Here in Michigan City, we have a significant population of Polish descent.   In fact, roughly 10 percent of the Michigan City population identifies as Polish or Polish-descent. This significant Polish population can be seen around town at places like St. Stanislaus Catholic Church, which includes a weekly bilingual English/ Polish mass service.  Additionally, Michigan City holds an annual Polish Fest, in which traditional foods, music, and activities are held throughout a weekend in September. Here at MCHS, many fellow students identify as Polish.  Junior Jaelyn Nowatzke says her polish heritage “defines my family and where we came from”.  When asked her favorite part about her Polish heritage, Nowatzke didn’t hesitate, stating “I like not having a common last name”.

There have been countless famous Polish individuals. Among these is Marie Curie, having won two Nobel Prizes for her work in physics and chemistry, and widely known for her work in radioactivity.   Also notable is Nicholas Copernicus, who was the first scientist to suggest that the sun was the center of the solar system. In fields of entertainment are funnyman Steve Carell and adventure star Nicholas Cage. Even in American politics, there was the president who boasted of Polish heritage, President William McKinley. There are countless famous Polish and Polish Americans celebrated this Polish heritage month. If it were not for these famous individuals, today’s society would be lacking in scientific, entertainment, and political fields.

Along with famous individuals come famous Polish foods and cultures. Sauerkraut, for instance, is a sliced, fermented cabbage dish.  Another traditional dish is pirogues, which are a common traditional dish in which a dumpling is filled with meats, sauerkraut, cheese or potato filling.  Kielbasa, also known as Polish sausage, is also a popular food. Sophomore Rhiggs Thomas recalls some of the traditional Polish foods his family enjoys. “My aunt makes pirogues, and at Easter, we make Polish sweets.”  One of the best ways to learn about and celebrate a culture is through food, and there is no better time like the present to try some delicious Polish cuisine.

The Polish culture is rich in tradition and culture. Take time this month to learn a little more about Polish heritage. Enjoy Polish heritage month MCHS, and treat yourself to a few pirogues.

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