One of Buffalo’s greatest indicators that spring is here is the annual Dyngus Day Parade & Festival that brings our large Polish community into the spotlight. It also brings thousands of people who just love a good party and are happy to join their Polish neighbors. It’s the first of the season’s big festivals, before the Italian Festival, the Greek Festival, Allentown Art Festival, Taste of Buffalo, etc. Dyngus Day (also known as Śmigus-Dyngus and Wet Monday) celebrates the end of of lent’s 40 days of prayer and fasting and signals the joy of Easter Sunday, which is always the day before Dyngus Day.
The parade will begin at 5:30 PM on Monday, April 10th, 2023. There will be plenty of Polish food, music, art and vendors of all sorts. Don’t forget to get your pussy willows!
Water and pussy willows play a large role in the celebration. According to PolishPlate.com the tradition of the pouring of water goes back to the baptism of the first king of Poland, Prince Mieszko I, who along with his court was baptized on Easter Monday. The fact that the baptism took place the day after Easter is why Dyngus is celebrated on this day every year.
Thus, Dyngus Day and its rites of sprinkling with water have become a folk celebration that the first king of Poland was baptized into Christianity, bringing Catholicism to Poland.
Pussy willows are used because they are among the first to bloom in the sping and it’s also a chance for men to show their interest in a particular woman.
“It was custom to throw water and hit the girls on their legs with twigs or pussy willows,” according to PolishPlate.com. “The ladies would reciprocate by throwing dishes & crockery.”