In addition to having a sort of silly-sounding name, Dyngus Day brings all kinds of celebration to many places in the U.S. and Poland—but the festivities in Buffalo, New York really go above and beyond. This upstate city boasts the largest Dyngus Day festival in the entire country (the official festival website even refers to Buffalo as the Dyngus Day Capital of the World). Visitors can expect to find thousands of locals and out-of-towners gathering to express their Polish-American pride, and participate in a days-long festival.
But before we explore what Buffalo has in store for the big day, here’s a little background: It’s said that Dyngus Day originated as early as the year 966 A.D. in Poland, during the holy baptism of Prince Mieszko I. The water poured over his head (a practice that lives on in varying forms during modern Dyngus Day celebrations) symbolized purification and fertility.
Additionally, Dyngus Day was historically a time when young farm boys in Poland would flirt with girls to whom they were attracted and hoped to get the attention of. They would do so by tossing water on the girls, or by tapping the legs of young women with pussywillows—significant as it’s one of the first budding plants of spring. To respond, young women would, in turn, throw crockery at the interested men on the following day, Tuesday. Interesting tactics, right?
Today, the holiday manifests as a celebration of the end of lent (no more restrictions!) and thus always takes place on the Monday after Easter Sunday. Those interested in attending a Dyngus Day celebration can look to Ohio, Pennsylvania, Indiana, Connecticut, New Jersey, and Illinois to find different festivals. But in Buffalo, the celebration lasts for days, and there is an impressively extensive offering of both traditional and modern events, like live polka band performances, a massive float parade, traditional Polish dancing, delicious food (think pierogis, kielbasa, and stuffed cabbage) and all sorts of festivities surrounding the end of lent and the joy that Easter brings. Local Buffalo bars, restaurants, and shops pull out all the stops and offer up specials, and there is even an official Dyngus Day hotel, the Buffalo Grande (formerly the Adams Mark Hotel) which offers special rates for the big day.
This year, Dyngus Day celebrations will take place on Monday, April 22, and you can catch the big float parade in Buffalo in the Historic Polonia District beginning at 5 p.m. You can find a full list of Buffalo’s events here.
Hot tip: if you’re single and looking to have a little flirt, the water-tossing, pussywillow-brushing, crockering-throwing tradition is alive and well.
Where to Stay
Buffalo Grand Hotel: Formerly the Adam’s Mark Hotel, the Buffalo Grand offers some of the town’s finest accommodations, and is located in walking distance from tons of downtown attractions.
Curtiss Hotel: A five-star boutique hotel with a rooftop lounge, in-house hot springs, and 68 well-appointed luxury rooms.
The Mansion on Delaware Avenue: A AAA Four-Diamond Award-winning boutique luxury hotel that weds stunning architecture with elegant accommodations and top-of-the-line service.
Where to Eat
Ru’s Pierogi: It’s stated on the restaurant website that Ru’s is the “finest purveyor of pierogis this side of Warsaw” – Chef Andy Ruszczk mixes traditional recipes with modern ingredients.
Polish Villa: Delicious and authentic home-style Polish food, with catering available, too.
Polish Nook: Founded in 1964 by Stella and Stanley Kajfasz, serving up traditional Polish recipes.