It’s a blessing and a comfort to know where your family comes from and I’m fortunate to have been enveloped in my mother’s Polish background while growing up.  I’ve called my grandpa Dziadzia, ate Polish food at family gatherings and heard stories from my mom about “Busia”, my great-grandmother.  As I grew, I realized that not all of my friends celebrated their roots as much as my family did, and I became more interested in learning about our Polish background from relatives and through my own research.  At Ohio State, I discovered the Polish Club and met fellow Polish-American Ohio State students.  I enjoy attending the club’s events and witnessing a culture take form with such a young group of people.  Last year, I was awarded a grant to study abroad and immediately opted for the Eastern European program.

During my study abroad program, I visited Warsaw.  Our studies focused on the culture and history of Eastern Europe.  We learned about Poland’s rich history from the  country’s changing size, its role in WWII and today’s modern culture.  Immersing myself in my ancestral region helped shape my entire experience in Eastern Europe.  I felt connected to my roots and though Poland is much different than it was back when my relatives lived there, I nevertheless felt a strong sense of identity during my visit.  It was an incredible experience to put stories my great-grandparents told my mother into context.  The Poles were thrilled to meet us and each had a story regarding a family member or friend who lived in the States.  Their genuine interest in my life as an American was both unique and endearing to me.

This experience became even more special to me this past fall when my Dziadzia, Bob Jankowski, passed away.  The loss was difficult for my family yet I feel blessed to have shared a few special months with him bonding over my experience in Poland.  I shared trip photos and stories with him, and although he was a man of few words, during those moments, I made a connection with my Dziadzia that I hold close in my heart.  I brought him back a hat embroidered with “Polska” from Poland.  It now sits on my dresser and not a day goes by that I’m not reminded of him.

To me, having a Polish-American heritage means having deep connections; a connection with my Dziadzia and the great man he was; a connection to my ancestors; and a connection to a global community that culturally ties us through our Polish roots, forming instant bonds.  The Polish friends I’ve made in Columbus are the same as the Polish friends I’ve made in Warsaw in the sense that we all enthusiastically share and appreciate our heritage.  I’ve found the Polish community to be wonderfully open and passionate about their culture.  The food is delicious, the history is fascinating, the Polka is fun, but the people, including my Dziadzia, are what make my Polish heritage and honor and a true blessing.

 


Having a Polish-American Heritage means that I have had the unique opportunity to be able to experience many wonderful and remarkable traditions in my life.  I have been able to witness weddings with polka bands, grand marches, the oczepiny and the poprawiny.  My holidays have been filled with my Great Grandmother’s kapusta, which my aunt creates from our secret family recipe, our traditional trip to Stanley’s Market for kielbasa, my Great Uncle presenting the Oplatek at Christmas and of course, having homemade pierogi on Good Friday.  Everyone who shares this pierogi experience with us will always leave our home with the tell-tale scent of butter and onions on them.

However, my Polish Heritage is more than just the tangible traditions that have helped influenced who I am.  The intangible things have left a more lasting, rooted impression on my life.  I realized this when I went away to college last fall.  For the first time in my life, I was hundreds of miles away from my family, in a new and intimidating environment and without a friend or familiar face in sight.  But then I recalled my Great Grandparents, Ludwig and Hedwig Pietrasz.  Ludwig was born in Jeziorany, Poland and had eventually made his way to the United States.  Hedwig Pacieszniak was born in Poland on January 8, 1908, lived in Poland during World War I and came to the United Stated when she was 11 years old.  The great courage it must have taken them to come to an unfamiliar place, not speaking the language and not knowing anyone.  They were strong and remarkable people who eventually met each other in Hamtramck, Michigan and married on July 21, 1925.  I realized that I came from a long line of courageous and resilient people and that I too have these strong characteristics and because of this, I was able to not only thrive in my new environment, but to exceed my own expectations.

In addition, my Polish heritage has been immersed in love and encouragement.  Accomplishments, no matter how small, are shared by every member of my family and celebrated with excitement and enthusiasm.  Every stride that I have made and every success that I have had stems back to being able to grow up with this strong Polish legacy and I know it will continue to follow me in my future and in turn, be a part of how I raise my own family.

What does it mean to be Polish?  It means that family is the most important thing in the world.  Our Polish traditions, weddings, holidays and foods are all rooted in strong family ties.  My family still celebrated holidays and life events with Great Aunts and Uncles, Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles and Cousins just like my Great Grandparents did with their families.  It means that others view us as helpful and reliable.  It means that we  are not only courageous, but resilient people.  It means that I have a strong sense of pride and respect for all who have come before me and all who have helped shape me into who I am today.  It means that my Polish beliefs and customs will remain strong and my Polish Heritage of family support, resiliency and reliability will define everything that I do in my future.


The Polish American Community of Toledo and the Toledo Poznan Alliance are pleased to announce the 2015 scholarship winners:

Zachary Pylypuik, age 15, will be a sophomore at St. Francis de Sales High School this coming fall.  In addition to playing travel hockey, Zack volunteers as a lector at Holy Trinity in Assumption, Ohio and is an announcer for St. Francis KSN Radio.

Ethan Collins, age 17, a senior this coming year at Central Catholic High School.  Ethan participates in cross country, track and soccer.  He volunteers at Hospice of Northwest Ohio and at “Fishes and Loaves”, an organization which feeds the homeless.  Ethan is returning this August from US Army Boot Camp to begin his senior year.

Jessica Pietrasz, age 19, of Rossford, Ohio will be a sophomore at Youngstown State University this fall.  She is active in YSU’s Woman’s Cross Country and Woman’s Track and Field.  She was a 2014 PACT/TPA scholarship recipient.

Casey Sobota, age 22, of Waterville, Ohio will be graduating from Ohio State University in 2016 with a major in Strategic Communications.  She is a member of the Public Relation Student Society of America and a regular contributor to “Her Campus” Online magazine.  Casey was a 2014 recipient of a PACT/TPA scholarship.

Congratulations to this year’s scholarship winners!  Each winner will be awarded  $1,000 toward their education.

Type a name of any of the winners in the search bar to read their essay.

 


Agora (4) Agora(4) Agora

Located along the southwest side of Grant Park, Agora is one of Chicago’s most recent and important sculptural installations. Comprised of 106 nine-foot tall headless torsos made of cast iron, the artwork derives it name from the Greek word for meeting place. The figures are posed walking in groups in various directions or standing still. Internationally renowned artist Magdalena Abakanowicz donated the sculptural group along with the Polish Ministry of Culture, a Polish cultural foundation, and other private donors. Born into an aristocratic family just outside of Warsaw, Abakanowicz (b. 1930) was deeply affected by World War II and the forty-five years of Soviet domination that followed. In her journals, she writes that she has lived “…in times which were extraordinary by their various forms of collective hate and collective adulation. Marches and parades worshipped leaders, great and good, who soon turned out to be mass murderers. I was obsessed by the image of the crowd… I suspected that under the human skull, instincts and emotions overpower the intellect without us being aware of it.” The sculptor began creating large headless figures in the 1970s. Initially working in burlap and resin, she went on to use bronze, steel, and iron. Although Abakanowicz hasfrequently exhibited in museums and public spaces throughout the world— Agora is her largest permanent installation.

(from City of Chicago: the official website of Chicago)

http://www.cityofchicago.org


The next meeting of TPGS will be held on Saturday, March 21st from 10 am to noon.  Meetings are held at St. Michael School, 420 Sandusky Street.  This month’s speaker is Donna Christian.  All are welcome!

The schedule for TPGS meetings for the remainder of the year is:

Saturday, April 18 – Monthly Meeting from 10am to 12pm – Show and Tell

My Trip to Poland by TPGS Members.

Saturday, May 16 – Special Event – Field Trip

Calvary Cemetery Tour featuring Prominent Poles

Saturday June 20 Monthly Meeting from 10 am – 12 pm

 DNA presentation by Bob Smith

July 10 – July 12 LAGRANGE STEET POLISH FESTIVAL

July 26 – TPGS Annual Picnic at St. Michael’s

August 15 & 16 – Book Fair hosted by TPGS at the 577 Foundation

Saturday, September 19  Monthly Meeting from  10 a.m. – 12 noon.

Monroe County Library’s genealogy resources by Mary Vergowven

Michigan PGS website by Marlene Hardman

Saturday, October 17  Meeting from 10 a.m. – 12 noon – Polish Heritage Month

How many relatives have you met since you joined TPGS?

Polka with Paulette and Mel

Saturday, November 14  Monthly Meeting 10 a.m. – 12 noon. Meeting

TPGS Members’ Brickwall ancestors – revealed

Who are You? winner research presented

Saturday, December 5 TPGS CHRISTMAS PARTY from 12 noon – 4 p.m..

Cost $5/person.  Meat will be provided
Members Last Name A-K Bring hot dish; L-Z Bring cold dish
Bring a gift for the exchange (Polish or genealogy related)

 

 


WORLD WAR II LOCAL HERO TO BE INDUCTED INTO OHIO MILITARY HALL OF FAME FOR VALOR

World War II hero Sergeant Alexander A. Drabik will be inducted posthumously into the Ohio Military Hall of Fame for Valor on April 24, 2015 in the State House Atrium, Columbus, OH.
Drabik was nominated by the Holland Springfield Spencer Township Historical Society (HSSHS), as he attended Dorr Street Elementary School and was a long-time Springfield Township resident. Honoring all who served their county is part of the Society’s on-going Veterans Project.
Drabik was the first soldier to cross the Remagen Bridge in Germany on March 7, 1945, which gave the Allies access to cross the Rhine River, then Germany’s largest defense barrier. He led 10 riflemen across the bridge, surprising the Germans that they forgot to blow up the bridge. He received the Distinguished Service Cross for his heroism.
General Dwight D. Eisenhower, the Supreme Allied Commander in Europe, said the capture of the bridge shortened the war by six months possibly saved as many as 50,000 Allied lives. When Eisenhower became President of the United States, he invited Drabik and the 10 riflemen to the White House and told them he was forming the Society of the Remagen Bridgehead.
Before he was sent overseas, Drabik led a rescue a group of 120 men who were lost in the California brush during maneuvers.
Drabik received a tribute in the Congressional Record in 1993 and was a commander of the now-defunct Turanski-Van Glahn VFW Post 7372. There is an Ohio Historical Marker located on Wolfinger Road where he was born installed in 2011.
ADrabik


Space for the pierogi class on Saturday, March 28th is full.  We are sorry to all who wanted to take this class but were not able to so we are going to schedule another class in October just in time for Christmas.  PACT will announce the October date when it is finalized.  Thank you to all who wanted to take the March class.  We hope you will be able to attend the next one in October.


2015 Scholarship Awards

The Polish American Community of Toledo is happy to announce that along with the Toledo Poznan Alliance of Toledo, we will again be awarding  scholarships to High School/College students based on academics, extra-curricular activities and an essay submitted about “What Having a Polish-American Heritage Means To Me”.  Last year four area high school or college students each received a $1000 scholarship toward their education.

Click on PACT/TPA scholarship application button on the right of the screen to download a copy of the application.  After filling it out, send it to PACT, P.O. Box 1033, Sylvania, Ohio, 43560 no later than May 31st.  Winners will be announced in June.


This year PACT will have a shopka in the Toledo Holiday Parade.

DSC09960

 

(From PolAmJournal.com)

by Stas Kmiec

Mention the word szopka (creche) or jaselka (nativity play) to someone born in Poland long ago, and you will see a spark of joy light up in their eyes. They recall the live nativity scenes, puppet shows, pageant plays and shimmering fairy tale castle-like scenes of their youth.

The Christmas creche is common to all of the Christian faith, but the szopka is unique to Poland. The szopka, once a humble peasant pleasure, has become a recognized Polish institution. A truly Polish Christmas celebration is not complete without some form of this scene.

The custom originated with St. Francis of Assisi, who set the first Nativity tableau in 1223. It was brought to Poland by Franciscan monks around the 13th century. The earliest sign of a manager scene in Poland was in St. Andrew’s church in Kraków. The first crìches were quite simple and portable, but eventually monks took on the roles of the figurines, with the exception of the infant and animals, and developed a living nativity.

Dialogue crept in and eventually the jaselka play developed. The monks were replaced by peasants, students, artisans and even the nobility. Figures from history, local tradition and legend, such as Pan Twardowski were added for national color. Allegorical figures such as the devil and smierc (death) carrying a scythe soon appeared, along with Biblical figures, such as, the Holy Family and King Herod.

The still managers became filled with multi-figure compositions. In addition to the Biblical figures and animals, Polish peasants in their regional finery and whole armies accompanying the three kings were displayed.

By the eighteenth century these figures were moveable. Stringed marionettes or stick puppets replaced the static figures. The performances presented two types of integrated plots: a Biblical one telling the Nativity story and a lay one of traditional, folk and satirical nature.

Still taking place in church, it was soon realized that the excitement of such an entertainment had gotten out of hand. In 1736 these plays were banned from the churches by Bishop Teodor Czartoryski, permitting only immobile scenes of a strictly Biblical Christmas. Both the live and puppet shows now were passed down to the people, who included them in the ritual of caroling (kolednicy). Following the ban the performances evolved into a true expression of folk art.

The live Jaselka became a traveling show beginning on St. Stephen’s day (December 26). The Bethlehem locale, was now set in Poland. Original characters and much of the traditional dialogue were preserved, but in the hands of artists and students it became a mirror of community life, with political satire and local anecdotes added in. Key moments were preserved, such as the well- known scene between King Herod and the devil. The devil triumphantly exclaims in retribution for Herod’s Massacre of the Innocents, “Królu Herodzie za twe zbytki, chodz do piekla, bos ty brzydki” (King Herod for your wicked ways come with me to hell because you are deplorable). This scene was extremely popular with the audience.

In literature and theater, the plays were made famous by such authors as Lucjan Rydel (Betlejem Polskie) and Leon Schiller (Szopka Krakowska and Pastoralka), and continue to appear in the repertoire of professional theater companies in Poland to this day.

Throughout the 18th century, native artisans were making crìches that were distinctively Polish in architectural design, folk costume and motif. Each region developed its own unique design, but it was in Kraków that it developed into a high art.

By the 19th century several elements defined the szopka’s shape, finding inspiration in the existing structures of Kraków. The stable’s roof was covered by a second story and was flanked by two towers. The two towers eventually resembled the Kosciól Mariacki (St. Mary’s Church) and the central Renaissance dome was reminiscent of Wawel Castle’s Zygmunt Chapel. By the end of the 19th century the stable was moved to the second floor and bottom floor was filled with figuures of folklore and history.

The outbreak of World War I brought an end to the szopka, when Austrian occupation forces prohibited home-to-home caroling accompanied by a szopka. Due to the change in political climate after Poland had regained its independence in 1918, it seemed this form of folk art would disappear entirely. A Jaselka was staged at a Kraków theater in 1923 and this sparked a revival of sorts. Szopki were made and sold as souvenirs. The city’s municipal authorities decided to save this decaying tradition by announcing the first competition in December of 1937. Eighty-six cribs were entered. With the exception of the wartime period of 1939-1944 the competitions have become an annual holiday tradition with a magnitude of entrants. Kraków hosts the competition in the central Rynek (marketplace) Square. The puppet shows survive to this day as popular entertainment and are included in this event, as well.


Wilgilia Tradition

When the first star, known as the Gwiazdka, appears in the eastern sky, the Christmas tree is lit and that is when the feast to commemorate the birth of the Christ Child begins.