"Let it be blessed... Bydgoszcz in the Polish People's Republic"

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"Let it be blessed... Bydgoszcz in the Polish People's Republic"

Let it be blessed... Bydgoszcz in the Polish People's Republic

The text describes how in Poland, before 1948, the socialist authorities organized ceremonies that included religious masses and services to suggest continuity with the pre-war statehood and democracy. However, this soon changed, and the cult of Stalin began to be promoted. The authorities adapted religious holidays to their own calendar, distorting their religious significance and treating them, for example, by recognizing Christmas solely as part of folk tradition. Ant-German propaganda was incorporated into the rituals, which, after the hardships experienced during World War II, resonated with the people.

In the period of the Polish People's Republic (PRL), the main holidays became May 1st (International Workers' Day) and July 22nd (Polish Communist Party's Foundation Day). These events were highlighted in the exhibition. The central point of the May Day celebrations was the procession (a choreographed ideological spectacle), in which participation was compulsory. In the city of Bydgoszcz, the column marched through Aleje 1 Maja (currently ul. Gdańska) to reach the platform with dignitaries placed in front of the headquarters of the Pomeranian Station of Polish Radio in Bydgoszcz (now Polskie Radio PiK). On every occasion, strong emphasis was placed on the friendship between Poland and the Soviet Union and other socialist bloc countries.

In addition to these, local authorities, party activists, and residents attached great importance to municipal and anniversary celebrations. The 600th anniversary of the city's founding in 1946 was celebrated most notably. In 1966, Bydgoszcz participated in the nationwide celebration of the 1000th anniversary of Poland's Baptism and the Polish State, and three years later, the 30th anniversary of the outbreak of World War II was commemorated. Branch-specific holidays, such as the Polish Armed Forces Day, Teachers' Day, and Railwaymen's Day, were also not forgotten, as well as those that held a permanent place in the calendar, such as Women's Day and Children's Day.

Despite the communist regime's ongoing struggle with the Catholic Church, the faithful in Bydgoszcz did not stop practicing their religious traditions. For instance, during the Corpus Christi feast, they honored Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament, taking processions through the city streets. The pilgrimage of the copy of the Black Madonna of Częstochowa in 1978 and the celebration of the 190th anniversary of the adoption of the 3rd of May Constitution in 1981 also attracted crowds.

For most residents of Bydgoszcz, the most special holidays were those spent with family and friends. These included baptisms, First Communion, civil and church weddings, Christmas (Gwiazdka), Easter, and New Year's Eve. As a result, a room was arranged with a traditional Christmas Eve supper in the exhibition space.

The exhibition showcases archival photographs, posters, numismatic and phaleristic objects, amateur films, memories, and everyday objects related to Bydgoszcz's celebrations in the past era. Most of the exhibits are from the collection of the Bydgoszcz Regional Museum, with some items acquired from local institutions and private individuals.

The exhibition serves as a journey into the past reality, bringing back memories of childhood or youth for many. Despite the socialist regime and lack of freedom during that time, it may evoke a sense of nostalgia.

Text by PhD Anna Nadolska

Curators: PhD Anna Nadolska, Daria Fosińska

Artistic arrangement: Ewa Widacka-Matoszko

Exhibition production: Łukasz Maklakiewicz

Photographs: Wojciech Woźniak

Exhibition opening hours:

Tuesday, Thursday; 10.00 AM - 6.00 PM

Wednesday - Friday; 12.00 AM - 8.00 PM

Saturday - Sunday; 12.00 AM - 6.00 PM