April 01, 2013
Having grown up in Buffalo, New York, this particular holiday has more importance to me than your average mid-westerner. Dyngus Day is as important to folks from Buffalo and Cleveland as St. Patty's Day is to many others. Historically, Dyngus day is a Polish-American holiday celebrated on Easter Monday. This year Dyngus Day is April 1, 2013. It celebrates the end of the hardships of Easter Lent.
The tradition actually dates back to a Slavic pagan spring cleansing and purification ritual of pouring water and using willow switches to "beat" things clean - to make things "right" with Dingen (the god of nature). Smigus refers to the soaking and switching aspect of the event. The Christian connection began around 966 AD when Prince Mieszko I of Poland was baptized a Christian and brought the Polish state to Christianity.
Through the years the celebration evolved into a courting ritual tradition, where young men and young women gathered. The young men sprinkled water (liberally) over the ladies and "beat" them with willow switches, and the ladies retaliated the next day by throwing crockery at the boys. In more recent years, both the boys and girls have taken to soaking each other and other water pranks. It now is a week-long celebration in the cities with large Polish populations. It is a great time for a spring party, to celebrate the end of a long winter, and to have a good time with great food, music, and fun!