October 28, is a Special Names Day Celebration
By Raymond Rolak
October 28, is Name Day for people named Thaddeus and thus, General Tadeusz Kosciuszko, a good reason to celebrate for sure. His ideals were lofty and he prized honor and liberty for all.
In Poland, Names Day celebrations are customary. Like a ‘Birthday Party’ in America, one would celebrate with friends and family on the feast day of the Saint one is named after. On October 28, because of his cherished celebrity and honored courage, everyone considers themselves ‘Tad.’ Tadeusz Kosciuszko, that is.
After his exploits in the American Revolution, Kosciuszko returned to Poland to help restore the Polish borders.
After Poland passed the May 3, Constitution in 1791, it was attacked by Russia, Prussia and Austria who wanted to stop these democratic reforms. King Stanislaw Augustus created the Virtuti Militari medal to honor the Polish soldiers, who had fought to defend the first democratic constitution in Europe. But the Poles lost the war, and the Russians demanded that these medals not be worn or displayed.
While the officers who received this honor took the medals off their chests, they sent the blue with black ribbons from these honors to their wives and girlfriends, who used them to tie their hair in ponytails.
On Oct 28, 1792, Prince Czartoryski held a Names Day party (imieniny) at his palace for the name’s day of Tadeusz. General Kosciuszko was celebrated. The women wore white dresses with black and blue sashes and tied their hair in ponytails with the medal ribbons. The women also made a garland crown of leaves from an oak tree planted 100 years earlier by King Sobieski, and placed it on Kosciuszko’s head to honor him.
General Kosciuszko was described by Thomas Jefferson as the “Purest son of Liberty”. When Kosciuszko died he left his money and property in America for the freeing and education of slaves. George Washington commented, “He served America with courage and distinction.”
Because October is Polish Heritage Month in America, remember to be Tad that day. Wear a blue and black ribbon. Remember parents, grand-parents and all those who came before us. Remember the sacrifices of veterans, teachers, mentors and most of all, remember the examples of Kosciuszko. “Happy Names Day- Tadeusz.”