Monday, April 13, 2009

Easter Monday

The Peeps and jelly beans and chocolate bunnies have all been consumed. I'll be picking Easter grass off the floor for months. Plastic eggs back to the basement. Easter is over. At least it is in Kansas City.

When I was in college in South Bend, I was exposed to a cultural tradition I had never heard of before (and have never heard of since). Dyngus Day.

What is Dyngus Day, you ask? First, it's Easter Monday. Second, it's a Polish thing. Apparently, cities with large Polish populations celebrate it. Which 'splains South Bend's fixation on Dyngus Day. Alongside Buffalo and Chicago, South Bend has the most notable Dyngus Day tradition in the U.S.

Sure, there are religious and historical foundations for Dyngus Day - much like there are for St. Patrick's Day. And, like their Irish cohorts, the Poles have turned Dyngus Day into a party. Google tells me that Dyngus Day in South Bend is the traditional kick-off to political campaigns, local, state and national. Politicians from around the country stop in for the parade and the parties.

From a student's perspective, here's what I know about Dyngus Day: booze, food and more booze. (Which makes it sound like St. Patrick's Day, except for the food part.)

I worked retail all through college and got to know some locals, including some from South Bend's Polish families. Believe me when I say that Dyngus Day was a big freakin' deal. (Aside: I vividly recall showing an off-duty cop/bouncer the world's WORST fake ID to get into Coach's on Dyngus Day one year. It was terrrrrrrible. But he let me in. I think he was Polish. Or drunk. Probably both.)

Just wish they'd come up with a better name. Dyngus? Seriously.

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