What the heck is Dyngus Day and why are people chasing each other with pussy willows; is a question that may run through the minds of many UB students come Monday.
Dyngus Day is a traditionally Polish holiday that falls on the Monday after Easter Sunday. It would be fair to say that this is similar to St. Patrick's Day for Polish citizens of Buffalo. The day is a way to ring in spring, display Polish pride, jam out to some of the best polka bands in the U.S. and, most importantly, flirt with pussy willows.
The holiday came across the ocean with Polish settlers. Large, modern-day celebrations can be found in Cleveland, Chicago and Pittsburg, but the largest one is right here in Buffalo.
Thousands of people flock to the Queen City in order to partake in the festivities each year. In 2008, Buffalo's Dyngus Day celebration overtook Warsaw, Poland as the largest, organized Dyngus Day celebration in the world.
One of the epicenters of Dyngus Day in Buffalo is St. Stanislaus Church. Located on the East Side of Buffalo, and only down the street from Broadway Market, many people of all backgrounds gather at the church to celebrate Good Friday, Easter Sunday, and of course Dyngus Day.
"[Dyngus Day] is a beautiful Buffalo tradition," said a representative of St. Stanislaus Church. "Water is pouring on people and [pussy willows] are everywhere. There are thousands of people, it's fun. It's very hard to describe without seeing it."
Features of the festival include traditional music and tons of food, but what most people enjoy, other than the alcohol, is the tradition of sprinkling water and tapping pussy willows. Tradition holds that on Easter Monday, boys can sprinkle water on girls they have a romantic interest in and/or tap these girls with pussy willows. On Tuesday, girls are allowed to return the favor. Modern celebrations tend to see both genders happily exchanging squirts and switches with each other on Monday.
"It doesn't matter what background you come from, Dyngus Day is a wonderful sight," St. Stanislaus Church said. "If you are a young person you should go and experience this tradition."
Many people ask where the tradition of the pussy willows came from. Especially in the climates of Poland, pussy willows are the first flower to bloom in spring. It is believed that this meant fertility, and a spring fertility festival is the heart of what Dyngus Day came from in ancient pagan Poland.
The official celebration, Dyngus Day in Buffalo, was started in 1960 and quickly became a city-wide hit.
"It's a day where everybody is a little bit Polish" said the Dyngus Day in Buffalo website.
‘Lubie pivo,' ‘Kocham Cie,' and ‘Nie mam pieniedzy' are some phrases celebrants of Dyngus Day should have handy on Monday. They mean, respectively, ‘I like beer,' ‘I love you,' and ‘I'm broke.'
For an official guide to Dyngus Day in Buffalo, would-be attendees can go to the website where information on the festival, prices, times, and more useful Polish phrases can be accessed. http://www.dyngusdaybuffalo.com/
Additional reporting by Akari Iburi.