Jeff Lafferty, Columnist

It's the time of the year where everyone has some new energy, life, and hope because the seasons are changing. We also have the chance to enjoy a holiday with family and friends. If you have children, you may get to hide Easter eggs and watch them try to find them. If your family is like mine, you end up having to help them find that last egg or two because they just can’t seem to figure it out.   

In Northern Indiana, and other areas with a large Polish-American population, Monday is also a big holiday: Dyngus Day. 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 day dates back to 966 A.D. and is associated with the baptism of Prince Mieszko I.   The tradition began when Prince Mieszko I, along with his court, was baptized on Easter Monday. Thus, Dyngus Day has become a folk celebration in thanksgiving for the fact that the first king of Poland was baptized into Christianity, bringing Catholicism to Poland. In the early 1900’s, farm boys in Poland would want to gain the attention of girls of their choice. It was custom for the boys to throw water and hit the girls on their legs with twigs or pussywillows.  Some of the boys were more sophisticated and threw cologne instead of water. The ladies would reciprocate by throwing dishes and crockery on Tuesday and would get their revenge. (Some department stores that sell cookware and dinnerware would be happy to see this custom come back sometime soon.)

 Buffalo, New York and South Bend, Indiana are two of the towns that have a really large Polish American culture and celebrate the day. Currently the day is celebrated with local pubs and bars opening as early as 9:00 a.m.  People calling off work, kicking off political campaigns, and live polka music are some of the other traditions people use to celebrate the day after Easter. Polish sausage, noodles, and pierogi are just some of the traditional foods that are served along with beer all day long.  

If you live in an area with a big Polish American community, and you have never celebrated this day, then you need to do yourself a favor and just check it out!

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