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Friday, April 21, 2006

Blue Monday (how does it feel?) 


Dyngus Day information from polamjournal.com:


Many of our Polish customs date back to pre-Christian practices of our Slavic ancestors. The custom of pouring water is an ancient spring rite of cleansing, purification, and fertility. The same is true of the complimentary practice of switching with pussy willow branches, from which Dyngus Day derives its cognomen "Smigus" -from "smiganie" -switching.

The pagan Poles bickered with nature -"dingen" by means of pouring water and switching with willows to make themselves "pure" and "worthy" for the coming year. Similar practices are still present in other non-Christian cultures during springtime....

Since 966 A.D., and the baptism of Prince Mieszko I, the Church literally "baptized" and accepted these customs, raising them to a level of grace as well as giving them a new and more profound meaning than in the pagan Slavic culture. Other examples of such baptism in Polish tradition include the blessing of Easter baskets, "Wigilia" at Christmas, St. John's Eve -"Sobotka," and Pentecost - Zielone Swiatki, and a host of others.

During the years of the first Millennium of Christianity, baptisms were celebrated exclusively during the Easter season, particularly Holy Saturday and the Octave of Easter. Tradition states that Prince Mieszko I along with his court were baptized on Easter Monday. Thus, Dyngus Day and its rites of sprinkling with water have become a folk celebration in thanksgiving for the fact that the first king of Poland was baptized into Christianity, bringing Catholicism to Poland.

American Polonia has a great cause for celebration in both music and ritual on Dyngus Day, for this day marks the beginning of Roman Catholicism in Poland, the reason that we are today of Catholic faith!



From Buffalo News:


Dyngus Day diehard Natalie Litwin learned long ago that the early birds catch the willows....

She has been celebrating the end-of-Lent custom for seven decades, since she was a child. Even in those days, mischievous men chased women around with scented water, and frisky lasses swatted passers-by with pussy willow branches.

"My mother didn't approve of it, but my father just loved it," Litwin reminisced Sunday as the sounds of polka bands and the aromas of authentic Polish food filled the air.

Scholars have long debated the origins of Dyngus Day, but everyone can agree on one thing - the Monday after Easter was picked long ago for a special celebration that signaled the end of the Lenten season, which was a period of strict fast in Poland. Families would stage feasts on Sunday, followed by a day of revelry with friends.

To others, Dyngus Day signals a spring rite of cleansing and rebirth....

Welland, Ont., resident Diana Jazvac...[has] been attending Dyngus Day bashes since she was 14, two years after her family moved to Canada from Croatia.

"No one cares what your nationality is on Dyngus Day," said Jazvac, who coordinates polka events in Ontario. "These are traditions that everyone can enjoy."



So true (at least in South Bend):


First celebrated in 1930 in South Bend to celebrate the coming of Christianity to Poland, Dyngus has also evolved into the unofficial start of political campaigning.

In 1971, the tradition expanded to include the African American community with Solidarity Day. This year, Dyngus takes another step, to include Michiana's growing Latino community....

Jesusa Rodriguez was busily preparing for the Latino Dyngus Day, Sunday, as she explained, “It will be our first and hopefully not our last Dyngus Day, and the reason why we got involved is because we, as in Latinos, need to get more involved in the political process. This is a step towards that and we need to make that happen.”

Added fellow Dyngus Day Preparer Ana Perez, “We want to get them involved in our traditions and we can also get involved in theirs, so we can create a bigger sense of community.”...



I can handle African-American involvement. I can handle Latino/Latina involvement. But politicians? It's bad enough that we have a political season starting at Labor Day; does our political season now have to start after Easter?

From the Ontario Empoblog (Latest OVVA news here)

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