What the Heck is Dyngus Day?

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A Brief History

On April 22, 2019, Clevelanders and people in American cities of Polish or Slavic heritage across the country celebrate the Slavic Holiday called Dyngus Day, a relatively new holiday to Cleveland only initiated 9 years ago, its European roots go back to the 15th Century.  Falling on the day after Easter each year, it is an early Spring traditional day to keep the Easter holiday season going for one more day, a day marked by Polka Music and dancing, and even more so by eating wonderful Slavic foods.

Digging Deeper

Celebrated by Slavic people as “Wet Monday,” the traditional Polish (“Śmigus-dyngus”), Czech, Ukrainian, Slovak and Hungarian (among other nationalities) people hold a parade of boys that in turn spank girls with branches of the Pussy Willow, but do not worry, this is NOT a violent act!  Sometimes the celebration includes the boys dressing up as bears.  Why?  Well, why not?

Dyngus in Wilamowice, southern Poland, where the men wander around the town in colourful handmade costumes in search of a girl to soak.  Photograph by Polimerek.

Americans looking for a good time with music and dancing and all around fun can consult the Internet to find the nearest Dyngus Day Celebration, and they will likely find such great foods as Kiszka (blood sausage), Kielbasa, Gollumpki (stuffed cabbage), Pierogi, Czarnina (Duck’s blood soup), Kapusta (cabbage, often in the form of sauerkraut) and pastries galore (Smacznie!).  We have heard a rumor that the drinking of alcoholic beverages may also be a small part of the celebration.  (Na zdrowie!)

Do not let that great Easter dinner feast be the end of your Easter weekend, and keep the celebration going by adhering to Dyngus Day!  (Oh, and pass the word, this holiday should not be a secret.)

Getting a soaking in Hungary on Vízbevető, “Water Plunge Monday”.  Photograph by Opusztaszer.

Question for students (and subscribers): Have you ever celebrated Dyngus Day?  Have you tried the foods mentioned above?  Please let us know in the comments section below this article.

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Historical Evidence

For more information, please see…

Kogle, Wendy. Commonalities: Dyngus Day Games. Amazon Digital Services, 2014.

Polish Pride Forever. It’s Not A Party Till The Kielbasa Comes Out: Lined Journal. Independently published, 2019.

The featured image in this article, a postcard depicting Dyngus celebrations, is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license.


About Author

Major Dan

Major Dan is a retired veteran of the United States Marine Corps. He served during the Cold War and has traveled to many countries around the world. Prior to his military service, he graduated from Cleveland State University, having majored in sociology. Following his military service, he worked as a police officer eventually earning the rank of captain prior to his retirement.