Sunday, July 3, 2011

The Holiest Day of my Life

Warsaw was a surprisingly interesting city and I guess I’ll have to paint the picture as I saw it, which is probably not the everyday Warsaw my classmate Marta pointed out.

Poland is a pretty Catholic country. That I knew before arriving. Our good buddy John Paul was Polish. Apparently it has the highest church attendance of any country in Europe. So, it was fitting that the one days I had in Warsaw was the yearly national church holiday. For this day, almost all businesses except restaurants in tourist areas and souvenir shops close. So basically all workers have the day off. Plus basic places such as supermarkets close, and even every museum in the city shuts down. So we weren’t expecting much except to just walk around in the streets. But in the end I think this was one of the most interesting days of the 2 week trip.

Warsaw has a ton of churches. So while walking around in the morning, every church we passed seemed to be full and in service. Then around 11 am we heard singing in one of the main streets, and came upon a few thousand people watching and participating in a public benediction and mass. I thought it was pretty impressive. There were speakers in the streets and the entire crowd joined in. At the front were some choir boys singing, and an altar.

We watched the mass for about 10 minutes then proceeded to exit through the mass of people (zing!). It was evident that the majority of the people in the crowd were at least a generation older than I if not in their 70s and 80s.

A link to a video of the mass:

Walking around with Marta later, she said she hoped I didn’t get the impression that Poland was some nutty religious place. It was hard not to get that impression though, from the events that day. Throughout the day, nuns were seen everywhere, a few more smaller public masses were seen (one was even a moving mass!), and groups of religiously garbed people walked around carrying jesus banners, church-like onnings, and other stuff was seen frequently.

Nonetheless, I thought it was a very unique and cool experience to see in Warsaw instead of the typical museum-church walking tour. A bit more interaction with the people and culture of the city.

Bigos and a Tyski. Not a bad meal:
The Soviet's monolithic 'gift' to the Polish, of which they would prefer to cover up with skyscrapers:

Martusia & I in one of the main squares of Warsaw:


Nice new trams:

The memorial outside the Warsaw Uprising museum:

Ah, Pierogis:

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