Monday, April 13, 2009

Happy Dyngus Day!


Witamy! Dyngus Day (the day after Easter, sometimes called Wet Monday) may not be a big holiday in your neck of the woods, but here in Buffalo, with its large Polish-American population, it's as big as St. Patrick's Day. It's a post-Lent Polish tradition dating back centuries. The flowering shoots of pussy willow are used in Europe and America for spring decoration on Palm Sunday as a replacement for palm branches, which don't grow this far north.

At after-lent parties, boys spritz water at the interest of their affection. Girls return their interest (if they are indeed interested) in the tapping of the boys with pussy willow branches. This is a charming, mellow version of the buckets of water & branch swatting of days of old.

Many U.S. communities with large Polish populations celebrate the holiday, like Chicago and cities in Michigan & Indiana. But Buffalo claims the largest celebration in the country with parades, parties, polka concerts and shuttle buses in between them all. Many pierogies and kielbasa will be consumed. And much Obolon & Tyskie beers and Sobieski vodka will be drunk.

If you happen to get caught unawares at a Dyngus Day party, here's a helpful guide to commonly used Polish sayings that can get you out of (or into) most Dyngus Day situations:

How are you? - Jak sie masz?
Good Day - Dzien dobry
Thank you - Dziekuja
Please - Prosze
Cheers! - Nazdrowie!
Let’s Dance - Zatanczymy
You're Beautiful - Jestes tak piekna
I like you - Lubie Cie
I like beer - Lubie pivo
I want you - Pragne Cie
I love you - Kocham Cie
Let’s get married - Ozenmy sie
I’m broke - Nie mam pieniedzy
I have a headache - Boli mnie glowa

For any other Polish translations, like some good dirty words, you'll have to ask Ewa in the Garden.

11 comments:

  1. This is the 1st I've heard of Dyngus Day, and I live in one of those cities in Indiana! I think it might be something they celebrate in the cities in Indiana up by Chicago. Sounds interesting, and good to knww about just in case...

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  2. Dzien dobry to you! I am of Polish heritage from the Suwalki region (also, I am part Lithuanian) and have never heard of this. Thanks for enlightening me! I grew up in Pennsylvania and my family is from an area where there were lots of Poles, so I am surprised this wasn't celebrated. For the record, I did have my pierogies and kielbasi yesterday for Easter dinner!

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  3. Dear Jim .. here I thought dyngus was a term for a "mystery item" like where did you put that dyngus ? .. I like the translations for I'm broke, and I have a headache ! Now that comes in handy : ) LOL
    Joy

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  4. Girls tapping boys with their pussy willows?

    HOT!!!

    I like this DyngusDay ... how can we turn this into a national holiday? Let's work on it!

    XO!

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  5. Jim,

    I just got your message in my contact form. Unfortunately you didn't provide all of your email. Don't know if it is at .com, .net,org etc. My name at gmail.com is mrbrownthumb. Shoot me a direct email.

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  6. Cool way to celebrate. The partying sounds like it's the back-end of Mardi Gras.

    I spent some childhood years in Rangoon where there was a water festival for their new year. Pouring water on unsuspecting passers-by as a condoned activity was a revelation to this six year old. No branch-swatting, tho...

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  7. I don't remember this growing up in Buffalo but maybe I missed it being Irish. Can't wait to hear you pronounce all of those phrases at Spring Fling. What I do remember is politicians coming for Pulaski Day. Saw JFK, LBJ and RFK at those big rallies.

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  8. Carol,
    Good to know about for sure. I've never actually participated in any Dyngus Day parties, other than Dyngus Day beer specials at bars during college.

    islandgardener,
    You're Polish and never heard of it? Such a cloistered existence! I think most Polish don't celebrate it, but Buffalo will find just about anything to celebrate and make a big deal of, especially this time of year.

    GardenJoy4Me,
    If I had a dyngus, I'd have lost it by now too.

    Germi,
    You can make anything sound hot.

    lostlandscape,
    Yeah, it's sort of a cross between a Polish Mati Gras and a St. Patrick's day sans the green beer.

    Ms. Wis,
    Don't expect me to remember these Polish phrases. I'm of French heritage and can't even say them in French. I've seen some of those Pulaski Day photos with famous, or pre-fame, politicians gladhanding. YOu saw a lot of initials!

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  9. Somehow, I missed this post. I'm glad I finally found it. Very interesting! Never heard of Dyngus Day. Nice to know that people keep this tradition alive. Polish words sound very familiar. We had a lot of students from Poland in Moscow where I studied for 7 years. Some words and expressions sound almost the same in Russian - Na zdorovie, kielbasa, etc.
    Thank you Jim!

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  10. Tatyana,
    I think this is a holiday that is bigger in Buffalo than it is in Poland.

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  11. Mój drogi (my dear) Jim, you made my heart sing :) great post about Dyngus Day! Currently in Poland, mainly kids and youngsters are pouring water on each other, but in many many families there is still the tradition to start the day with showering each other - wheter you still sleep or are already up.
    Dayngus Day is part of Easter celebration, but there is no tradition of fiesta here.
    Cheers,
    Ewa

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