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.
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 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.
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.”
Dyngus Day is the day after Easter and since first hearing of it, I’ve been wondering what all the hype is about. Bobby Joe Gorny from South Bend, IN has been asking me to attend a Dyngus Day event for three years now. So this year, we decided to put together a membership drive to promote the PFA. We came up with Dyngus Day Beads that read, “Join the Polish Falcons,” and included our phone number. We also purchased three $100 gift cards to raffle off at Nests 4, 80, and 564.
On Easter Sunday at 2:30 p.m., I picked up John Kuzmirek, the PFA Secretary/Treasurer & CFO, and we headed toward South Bend, IN. We got on the PA turnpike and six hours later, we exited at Mishawaka, IN. We drove to Bobby Joe Gorny’s, where Bob and his wife Lori extended an invitation for us to stay with them. Bobby Joe told us that we would be starting early the next day because the local radio morning show, Sunny 101.5, would be broadcasting from the MR Falcons Nest 4. We set the alarm for 4 a.m. and arrived at Nest 4 at 4:40 a.m.
My first Dyngus day experience got started with the Jack, Bruce and Abby Show on Sunny 101.5. All day long they were talking about “getting back to your roots” and telling the listeners to think about the old times and traditions.
Once we got everything ready to go for the day at Nest 4, we decided to take a ride to the Crumstown Conservation Club. When we pulled into the parking lot, the place was at complete capacity! At 7 a.m.! I couldn’t believe my eyes. We went inside and the Polka band was playing, people were dancing and everyone was dressed in red and white, celebrating their Polish heritage.
After about an hour, we headed back to Nest 4 to get the Dyngus Day event up and running. When we arrived, Mary Pluta asked if we could help her get the 600 lbs. of Polish sausage into the ovens, yes 600 lbs, plus 90 dozen hard boiled eggs. Well we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to taste this awesome display of food. I have to say that the sausage was the best that I have ever had. It melted in my mouth and the flavor was superb.
After spending a few hours meeting people, passing out Dyngus Day Beads and getting information cards completed, we pulled our first raffle winner: Lindzy Wise. She was the winner of a $100 gift card.
We packed up and headed to Nest 80 where the Dyngus Day festivities were going strong. The polka band was playing and many folks were dancing the polka as the Polish food was being served. John Kuzmirek was craving some pierogi and I definitely wasn’t turning down the opportunity to give them a try. We asked Bobby Joe to get us an order while we handed out more Dyngus Day beads. When we opened the containers and looked at the pierogi order, we almost fell over! John said to Bob, “I wanted a pierogi not a calzone”. I never saw a pierogi that big; it was delicious!
We proceeded to raffle off the next gift card. Ann Karwoski was our winner.
We then packed up and headed to Nest 564, LaPorte, IN. After a 45 minute drive and the loss of one hour because of the time change, it was 8 p.m. once again when we walked into Nest 564, where the polka band was playing and people were dancing. We were greeted with open arms and Dyngus Day cheer! We spent the next hour handing out beads and completing information cards, while Nest 564 put out a wonderful meal for all. We gave away the last gift card and the winner was Ashley Rheinholtz.
Then, we headed back to South Bend. We arrived at Bobby Joe’s house at 10:30 p.m. I looked at John and Bobby Joe and said “Do you realize that we have been going for 18 hours straight? It’s time to call it a night!”
To all the people who passed through the doors of the Polish Falcons on Dyngus Day, this event happens every year and I hope that you don’t wait the whole year to visit and support your Polish Falcons Nest once again. Anyone who isn’t a Member, please call 1-800-535-2071 and ask to speak with me and become a Member of our Polish Falcon Family! Czolem!