March 19, 2016 – Once fish fry season ends and Easter is over, it’s time to celebrate Dyngus Day in Buffalo, NY.
If you’re not of Polish heritage or not from Buffalo, you may not have heard of the holiday–but Buffalo, NY is the Dyngus Day capital of America, according to Dyngus Day Buffalo.
Traditionally celebrated the Monday after Easter, Dyngus Day is a Polish-American holiday that celebrates the end of the restrictive Lenten season and the joy of Easter.
For Polish-Americans in Buffalo and across the country, Dyngus Day brings people together to engage in Polish traditions and celebrate their culture.
Dyngus Day Background
According to Dyngus Day USA, since 966 A.D., Dyngus Day has been associated with the baptism of Prince Mieszko I, who was baptized on Easter Monday. Thus, the Dyngus Day tradition of sprinkling with water have become a folk celebration of his Baptism and bringing Catholicism to Poland.
In Polish culture, the custom of pouring water is an ancient spring rite of cleansing, purification, and fertility. The same is true of the Dyngus Day tradition of swatting others with pussy willow branches.
According to the site, pussy willows play a major part in Buffalo’s Dyngus Day celebrations as men and women flirt with playful “taps.” These branches are used because the pussy willow is one of the first “budding” plants of spring.
How Buffalo Celebrates Dyngus Day
While Dyngus Day is observed in many Polish American communities and there are parades celebrating the day across the country, Buffalo has the largest concentration of Dyngus Day festival locations, polka bands and Polish traditions in the nation.
Smaller festivals can be found in communities with large Polish American populations, including Cleveland, OH, South Bend, IN, Elizabeth, NJ and Bristol, CT.
According to “Creative Ethnics: Dyngus Day in Polish American Communities,” the Buffalo Dyngus Day celebrations started in the 1960s to help the Polish-American community in the city find a new focus for its identity.
Since then, the wildly successful celebration has become a fusion of Polish and American traditions, with polka bands, Polish food, and a large parade, which takes place in the Historic Polonia District of Buffalo.
Buffalo’s Dyngus Day Parade
Buffalo’s Dyngus Day Parade celebrates its 10 year anniversary in 2016, and this year promises to be bigger and better than ever.
According to Dyngus Day Buffalo, the parade has grown from a small group of friends holding flags to a procession of intricate floats, lively polka bands and large crowds. Attendees wear red and white to celebrate the event, representing the colors of the Polish flag.
The 2016 Dyngus Day Parade in Buffalo starts at 5:00 p.m. on Monday, March 28.
The parade starts in front of Corpus Christi Church, but organizers say the best places to sit and watch are on the larger streets, where you can see the parade head down Broadway to Fillmore and down Memorial Drive. They recommend grabbing a spot at Pussywillow Park Party Tent on Memorial Drive, The Broadway Market on Broadway, or the St. Stanislaus Social Center on Peckham Street.
The Dyngus Day Experience
Whether you’re from out of town or have lived in Buffalo your whole life, attending the Dyngus Day Parade should definitely be on your bucket list.
Even if you’re not of Polish heritage, you’re still welcome (and encouraged) to join in Buffalo’s unique Dyngus Day traditions.
Just like everyone is Irish on St. Patrick’s Day, Dyngus Day festival organizers say everyone is Polish on Dyngus Day, and there’s no better city to experience the holiday than in Buffalo–the Dyngus Day capital of the country.