Friday, April 06, 2007

Easter? Meh - I'm Waiting For Dyngus Day!


WHAT IS DYNGUS DAY?

Historically a Polish-American tradition, Dyngus Day celebrates the end of the often restrictive observance of lent and the joy of Easter. Over the decades, Dyngus Day has become a wonderful holiday to celebrate Polish-American culture, heritage and traditions.

The custom of pouring water is an ancient spring rite of cleansing, purification, and fertility. The same is true of the complimentary practice of switching with pussy willow branches. Since 966 A.D., Dyngus Day has been associated with the baptism of Prince Mieszko I. Tradition states that Prince Mieszko I along with his court were baptized on Easter Monday. Thus, Dyngus Day and its rites of sprinkling with water have become a folk celebration in thanksgiving for the fact that the first king of Poland was baptized into Christianity, bringing Catholicism to Poland. In more modern times, the tradition continued when farm boys in Poland wanted to attract notice from the girls of their choice. It was custom to throw water and hit the girls on their legs with twigs or pussywillows. Cologne was used instead of water by the more gallant lads. The ladies would reciprocate by throwing dishes & crockery and Tuesday was their day of revenge, imitating the same tactics.


As the popular polka anthem explains, “Everybody’s Polish On Dyngus Day!” Many parties begin during the mid-morning on the Monday after Easter with a large buffet of traditional Easter foods (kielbasa, ham, fresh breads, eggs). It is common to hear polka music on Dyngus Day with the mandatory dancing of at least one polka. Many parties continue well into daylight on Tuesday. (A tip to the first time Dyngus participant….take Tuesday off from work.)

WHY PUSSY WILLOWS?

Pussy willows play a big part in Buffalo’s Dyngus Day celebrations as men and women flirt with playful “taps.” Branches of the plant are used as the pussy willow is one of the first “budding” plants of spring. But how did the pussy willow get its name? According to Polish legend, many springs ago, baby kittens fell into a raging river while chasing butterflies. The mother cat sadly wept at the river’s edge, pleading for help for her drowning kittens. The willows heard her mournful cries and swept their long graceful branches into the water. The kittens grabbed the branches, held on tightly and were safely brought to shore. Every spring, from that day on, the willows sprouted fur-like buds where the tiny kittens once clung.

Beer, dancing, and a story about drowning kittens. What's not to love?

3 Comments:

At 12:48 PM, Blogger bhd said...

Happy Dyngus Day, my friend!

 
At 1:25 PM, Blogger Melanie said...

awesome! happy dyngus day!

 
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