We just learned about Dyngus Day yesterday, and man have we been missing out. All those years we could have woken up to boys throwing buckets of water over our heads or hitting our legs with willow branches. All those times we could have been eating kielbasa and pierogi. If you have no idea what we're talking about, read on...
Dyngus Day is a Polish holiday, celebrated the Monday after Easter. It originally commemorated the baptism of Prince Mieszko I, the first ruler of Poland, which brought Christianity to the country. That started the tradition of sprinkling water on people on Dyngus Day morning, which evolved into the custom of young men showing their affection for a girl by dumping water on her head and whipping her legs with branches.
Today, the largest Dyngus Day celebration in the U.S. is in Buffalo, New York. It's also a big holiday in South Bend, Indiana, where it marks the beginning of the political primary season.
We're not too big on being smacked with willow branches, but we do love Polish specialties like pierogi and kielbasa. And bigos, a sweet and sour Polish stew with sauerkraut, pork, mushrooms, tomatoes, and sometimes apples or honey, sounds delicious. If you're not too full from your Easter eating, carry on with Dyngus Day.
Need some food sources? Read this guide to the Polish markets in Greenpoint, Brooklyn.
Here are some recipes:
• Mrs. Kostyra's Kielbasa (she's Martha Stewart's mom), above.
• Potato and Goat Cheese Pierogi, also from Martha Stewart
• Fried Sauerkraut Cakes with Kielbasa, from Gourmet
• Bigos Stew, from Chow
More about Dyngus Day:
• Dyngus Day Buffalo
Related: How to Make a Butter Lamb for Easter (another Polish tradition!)