Leaves on this Family Tree

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Dyngus Day . . . April 25, 2011

 Did you know that the legend of Dyngus Day goes back to the year 966? Where is the largest Dyngus Day celebration in the world? What is the deal with pussy willows? Why sprinkle water? Who founded the modern Dyngus Day celebration in Buffalo? How do you say "cheers" in Polish? Can you really find your TRUE love on Dyngus Day? Become a Dyngus Day Buffalo expert before headed out to celebrate!






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 Legendary Frank Gorshin, Riddler from Batman, along with Eddy Dobosiewicz and members of the Polish Heritage Dancers at the Dyngus Day celebration at St. Stans, Buffalo, New York


HOW DID IT START? There are many stories that attempt to explain the origins of the day. Many Polish customs date back to pre-Christian practices of our Slavic ancestors. 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 pussy willows.  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.


WHAT DOES THE WORD DYNGUS MEAN? According to the Encyclopedia Staropolska written in the 19th century by A. Gloger, the word can be traced back to a medieval form of the word “Dingnus,” which means “worthy, proper, or suitable.” Gloger cites a used of the word, namely “ranson during a war to protect against pillage,” as well as a German usage of “Dingen,” which means “to come to an agreement, evaluate or buy back.” 

  
MODERN DYNGUS DAY IN BUFFALO  Although Dyngus Day was always celebrated in traditional Polish neighborhoods dated back to the 1870s, modern Dyngus Day in Buffalo had its start with the Chopin Singing Society in 1961. Judge Ann T. Mikoll and her late husband Theodore V. Mikoll held the first party at the Society's club rooms on Kosciuszko Street on Buffalo's Eastside. The success of the Chopins' Dyngus Parties during the 1960s led to other Dyngus dances on the Eastside including those at the Broadway Grill, the Warsaw Inn, the Polish Singing Circle and at the New York Central Terminal. Chopins left the Eastside in the 1980s and moved out to new clubrooms in Cheektowaga where the festival attracted a new generation. The Chopins tradition continues with party's taking place at the Heathstone Manor in Depew. 




WHERE IS DYNGUS DAY CELEBRATED? Buffalo, New York is officially the Dyngus Capital of America with the largest concentration of festival locations and live polka music. Smaller festivals can be found in community with sizable Polish-America populations such as South Bend, Indiana, Chicago, Illinois, Elizabeth, New Jersey, Bristol, Connecticut and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Celebrations in South Bend kick off political campaign season in the City.  






HOW TO CELEBRATE DYNGUS DAY? 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.) 





PUSSYWILLOWS OR WATER? This is a yearly debate among Dyngus Day revelers. The tradition holds true that on Easter Monday boys would sprinkle the girls with water and tap them with pussywillows. On Easter Tuesday, the women would return the favorite. At modern Dyngus Day parties it is common practice that both men and women trade water and pussywillow equally.    

2 comments:

  1. Morning! I just sent you an email for the pattern for the baby dress. :o) xoxox

    ReplyDelete
  2. Now you taught me something and I was born and raised in Buffalo NY and don't remember this "dykus" day???? but what fun... :) Debb

    ReplyDelete

Reading your comments inspires me to blog more.