Early in March, Poland joined a small but growing number of European countries that are curtailing shopping and other commercial activity on the Lord’s Day.
On March 11, the Associated Press reported on the new no-shopping law: “A new Polish law banning almost all trade on Sundays has taken effect, with large supermarkets and most other retailers closed for the first time since liberal shopping laws were introduced in the 1990s after communism’s collapse.”
According to AP, the law will be introduced in stages.
“The new law at first bans trade two Sundays per month, but steps it up to three Sundays in 2019 and finally all Sundays in 2020, except for seven exceptions before the Easter and Christmas holidays.”
While a similar law passed in Hungary in 2015 and was quickly repealed, AP reports, “elsewhere in Europe, including Germany and Austria, people have long been accustomed to the day of commercial rest and appreciate the push it gives them to escape the compulsion to shop for quality time with family and friends.”
The law was the inspiration of Solidarity, according to the AP report, Poland’s leading trade union. Solidary was formed and led by Catholic labor organizer Lech Walesa, who won the Nobel Prize in 1983 and eventually became Poland’s first president after the fall of the country’s Communist regime. The union played a major role in resisting and eventually breaking Communist control of Poland.
“Solidarity…has argued that employees should have the chance to rest and spend time with their families,” AP reports. “It found the support of the conservative and pro-Catholic ruling party, Law and Justice, whose lawmakers passed the legislation. The influential Catholic Church, to which more than 90 percent of Poles belong, has also welcomed the change.”