I was so excited to go home for this break for a while and for a few reasons; mostly, I don’t really get to see my parents (or my dog) too much anymore and I really just needed a break from school and to do something different for a few days. Going home, I knew I would be able to relax a little bit, see family, and eat some great food; the perfect remedy to the mid-semester lull. However, there was a slightly different highlight to this trip home. Buffalo, NY, where my parents live, has a world’s largest Dyngus Day celebration every year on the day after Easter.
Now, you may be asking yourself, “What is Dyngus Day?” Well, there’s a few answers to that question. First, it has started as a Polish-American holiday intended to celebrate the end of lent, however it has changed quite a bit. Dyngus Day is still a celebration, however, it no longer really has those religious connotations, at least at the celebration in Buffalo. Dyngus Day is now a day for celebrating Polish heritage and quite frankly, may involve a lot of drinking. However, the saying goes Everyone’s Polish on Dyngus Day.
My dad has been trying to get me to come downtown with him for a past couple years, but usually I have to drive back to Vermont on that day. However, this year I was able to stay for the festivities. So Monday evening my mom, dad, and I went down to where most of the festivities are held in South Buffalo. We started at a bar commonly referred to as The Library where we met up with a friend of my dad’s. Here we listened to Polka music by a live band, ate some Polish food, drank some Polish beer, and I even learned a Polish dance. Then we watched a parade go by full of people squirting water guns and waving pussy-willows (common Dyngus Day rituals and symbols). Then we walked down to where the big party was, the Central Terminal. This beautiful building has great historical and cultural meaning for Buffalo. It was once a bustling railroad station where thousands of people or more had reunited after being separated by World Wars and other significant events. This was the first time I have been to this building and even though there were hundreds of people in it and I was surrounded by music, lights, and red (the color of Dyngus Day), I was more overwhelmed by the magnificence of this great building. The Central Terminal is no longer used as a rail station, in fact, it is sadly not used at all and has fallen into great disrepair. I believe that Dyngus Day is the only time it is really used. After walking around the Terminal a bit (as much as we could through the crowd) and enjoying some more Polka music, we started heading home.
I was so glad that I was finally able to participate in Dyngus Day. First, because I got to enjoy a good time with my parents and also because I was able to celebrate my heritage (I am 50-percent Polish) and some pride for my home town, as well as experience some of the history of the City which I had never seen before.
Picture I took of the Dyngus Day festivities in the Central Terminal, Buffalo, NY.