In April of 1939, a group of women sat around the kitchen table of Helen Weber of Holyoke and formed the Polish Junior League as a means to socialize and keep their Polish Heritage alive. The constitution and by-laws were adopted on September 28, 1939. Articles of Association (Charter) were approved by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts on September 30, 1939.
The League was an opportunity to meet other women and share their culture and traditions, and soon fund-raising events were created to support Polish charities and scholarships for college students of Polish heritage.
Card parties were very popular events, and a formal ball was held each year at the Roger Smith Hotel in Holyoke where a queen was crowned.
An annual fashion show raised money for college scholarships and continues to be the major fundraiser of the Polish Junior League. Early fashion shows had members modeling their own clothes – many of which they created themselves. Newly married members would model their wedding gowns. Since the mid-sixties, local stores provided the fashions. This year we are celebrating 70 years of fashion on November 3, 2013.
Each December we hold our traditional Wigilia with the breaking of oplatek, a traditional meal including potato/cheese and cabbage pierogies, and ends with the singing of koledy, traditional Polish Christmas carols. This is one of the highlights of our year with family members and friends joining in the festivities.
A traditional Swienconka is held every spring with ham, kielbasa, hard boiled eggs and other traditional foods served. Stas Radosz, Director of the Polish Center of Discovery and Learning, addresses the group on Easter traditions including preparing the food basket to be blessed at the church on Holy Saturday, the meaning of the special foods prepared for the traditional Swienconka meal, and demonstrated how to carve a ram using two sticks of butter.
The League holds eight meetings per year: