10 th Polish National Meeting of Couples Who Had Non-Alcoholic Wedding Celebrations

Wedding of the Weddings 2004

Warszawa (Poland), July 22nd-25th 2004

2004 the Wedding of the Weddings was welcome in Warszawa. These were real days of joy, satisfaction and at the same time a splendid entertainment. We were guests at Polish Parliament and held a conference in the Parliament’s building, in the May 3rd Constitution Hall. We have visited the summer residence of Polish Kings in Wilanów.

Several sessions and lectures as well as a concert were held in the highest building of Warszawa – the Palace of Culture and Science, erected in the time of Stalinism. In one of the biggest halls there (the President Starzyński Hall) we had later the grand reception of the Wedding of the Weddings, with about 700 participants. Several TV and radio stations came to get some interviews with participants. Folk music and dance ensembles from high mountains were brought by Father Zązel. They invited young men to dance together with them the “zbójnicki” dance, but only two of them were capable to dance to the end. The “zbójnicki” is really a challenge with its speed and force required. At midnight there was a teleconference with Katowice, where by that time a non-alcoholic wedding reception was celebrated. This was one of the landmarks pointing the changes that are coming about in Poland after the dreadful era of socialism

The Wedding of the Weddings daily Masses were read by bishops from various parts of Poland: from Drohiczyn, Łowicz and of course Warszawa. A number of priests from Warszawa and other parts of Poland, including Białystok accompanied us every day. We are really thankful to them, as well as to the national authorities, especially the engaged MPs, as well as the authorities of the city of Warszawa, with the City President Kaczyński, who sponsored the meeting.

The 10th Wedding of the Weddings was an occasion to prepare a book about non-alcoholic weddings in Poland. Over a dozen couples contributed painting a picture of the past.

So it turned out that always a non-alcoholic reception was an act of courage. In the 1950ies such a wedding was impossible. Stalin was said to consider each glass of vodka as a next step towards socialism. This was a common saying in that time (though no verification was possible). So an abstinent was a state enemy (see the case of Pater Blachnicki, arrested for starting an abstinent society). In the 1960ies and 1970ies it was not that bad, but abstinents were treated as suspicious guys. In the 1980ies the state policy towards drinking changed (no more drinking at work place for example), but on the other hand a non-alcoholic wedding reception was a luxury. Nothing but vodka was easy to purchase, so a reception without alcohol was expensive both in terms of money and human effort. In the 1990ies it was for the first time possible to talk about non-alcoholic wedding in public. But the restaurant owners were even stronger opposing non-alcoholic receptions, because in the time of capitalist economy there was no cheap profit on non-alcoholic food and drink. This didn't change in the recent years.

Still we can be proud of the fact that people are starting to resist the pro-alcohol propaganda. The consumption of alcohol dropped in Poland to the lowest level in Europe (British and Germans drink 50% more than Poles). So we had really a fine occasion to celebrate and cheer.

And last not least it was time to say “thank you” to Father Zązel, who initialed this series of meetings and was taking care of the participants, contributing with his great speeches, unprecedented sense of humor and strong faith that he passes to us and our children.