October is Polish American Heritage Month. This celebration was first recognized in Philadelphia in 1981. In 1984, Polish American Heritage Month was officially recognized nationally. The annual celebration was held in August until 1986, when the month was changed to October to recognize when the first Polish immigrants arrived in Jamestown, Virginia in 1608.
Pennsylvania has a rich tradition with the Polish community. In 1897, a group of Polish immigrants in Scranton, Pennsylvania formed the Polish National Catholic Church. Today, this church has 126 parishes and more than 60,000 members. Pennsylvania also has a significant Polish American population. There are currently 800,000 Polish Americans living in Pennsylvania, which represents 6.7% of the total population. Between 1870 and 1920, at least 700,000 Poles came to work in Pennsylvania’s heavy industries, including coal mining, iron and steel.
A famous Pole, General Casimir Pulaski, is regarded as the father of the American Calvary for his role in training the Continental Army. In 1929, Congress passed a resolution designating October 11 as General Pulaski Memorial Day.
One of the best known and most loved Polish foods is the pierogi. Mrs. T’s Pierogies, a well-known grocery brand, was founded in the small town of Shenandoah, Pennsylvania in 1952. The company started with five (5) women sitting around a kitchen table handmaking pierogies and selling them to local stores. Fun fact: The word “pierogi” is actually the plural word for “pierog.”
Lauren E. Dobrowalski is a partner in the firm’s Scranton office.