Warsaw: Grey-haired and grinning, two dozen couples hold champagne flutes at a Warsaw ceremony in their honour. They survived 50 years of marriage and in Poland, that is reason enough for a presidential medal.
Long time love: A couple enjoy themselves after they are awarded the Presidential medal — silver-plated with intertwined roses at the centre and a pink ribbon. A hefty 65,000 medals are handed out each year. Pic/AFP
“To qualify, you have to put in over 18,000 solid days of work. Other medals require less, so it really is a considerable feat to have spent the last half century together,” says Warsaw Mayor Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz.
The lucky-in-loves take turns walking down the red carpet to accept their medals. The tradition is regularly played out in cities across the heavily Catholic country, with a hefty average of 65,000 medals awarded each year, according to the president’s office.
No other country honours marathon marriages with a presidential medal, something more often associated with military feats for example.
“It’s really quite unusual. I haven’t found any other (medal) that’s specifically for sustaining a marriage,” says Megan Robertson, a 54-year-old computer programmer who runs the website, Medals of the World.
Among last week’s medal recipients was Krystyna Ceranska, an elegant 74-year-old whose parents and grandparents also received the award but whose twin brother is already on marriage number two.
The retired anaesthesiologist credits her marital success in part to growing up without the idea that break-ups are easy-breezy.
“Divorce wasn’t in style. The Church didn’t accept it, our community didn’t accept it, and our families were divorce-free,” she said.
Her husband, a retired surgeon and ever the joker, has another theory.
“We both worked in medicine, so it’s fair to say we spent half our life apart. When one was on call at the hospital, the other was at home, and vice versa,” said Wlodzimierz Ceranski.
“Twelve days out of the month we didn’t see each other. Maybe that’s how the 50 years just flew by,” he said, laughing.'
>> In the US, a golden anniversary will get you a greeting from the White House.
>> In Britain couples who make it through six decades without splitting get a message from the Queen.
Divorce rate in Poland in 1980
Divorce rate in 2012