dyngus-day

WHAT IS DYNGUS DAY?

“DYNGUS DAY” is historically a Polish tradition which celebrates the end of the often restrictive observance of lent and the joy of Easter.  A special celebration held the Monday after Easter, a day of feasting, drinking, playing pranks and merrymaking.

The traditions of Dyngus Day predate Christianity, in Poland, by hundreds of years and are derived from pagan celebrations welcoming the spring. Young men would signal their amorous intentions to young women by dousing them with water.

In one interpretation of this tradition, the young man sneaks into his intended’s bedroom, most likely with the complicity of the young woman’s mother or father, and wakes her with a bucket of cold water.  Women would respond by beating young men with pussy willows.

Thus it is known as Wet Monday in Poland, or Smigus-Dyngus. Smigus means to strike, more or less, evoking the pussy willows, while dyngus means a worthy gift or ransom, referring to the small gifts, often decorated eggs that were exchanged as part of the holiday.

So pussy willows signify the advent of spring and rebirth, water signifies life and fertility, the celebratory eating and drinking signifies relief. Naturally, on Tuesday, after Easter (known as poprawiny), the girls would have their day and reciprocate.

At modern Dyngus Day parties it is common practice that both men and women splash and switch each other with water and pussy willows equally. Over the decades, Dyngus Day has become a wonderful holiday to celebrate Polish-American culture, heritage and traditions.

Check out this facebook page dedicated to Dyngus Day: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Dyngus-Day/43792229902?sk=wall


Rosemary Chorzempa sure knows her Polish traditions.  Luckily she was kind enough to share her knowledge with an audience of eager learners on Tuesday, April 19th, at Ski’s Restaurant in Sylvania.  Those who came to hear Mrs. Chorzempa explain some of the Polish traditions of Easter now know how to make a lamb out of butter for Easter dinner.  They also know what type of steps go into making decorative Easter eggs (pisanki).  Not only do you need to use beeswax and a tool called a kistka, you have to dye your egg with the lightest colors first to the darkest colors.  If you don’t, your egg will definitely not come out how you would like it to.  While explaining the folk art of pisanki, Mrs. Chorzempa  encouraged everyone to gather around her table to get a better look as she demonstrated how to decorate one.  She made it look very easy since she has been doing pisanki for many years.  She also brought in a woven palm like many of our grandmothers use to make with the palms from Palm Sunday.  Unfortunately it is becoming a lost art since parishes now only pass out one frond of palm instead of the four that you need to weave them into works of art.

If anyone would like to attend a pisanki workshop in May given by Mrs. Chorzempa, or for more information on the workshop, please call Ski’s at 419-882-1199.  She will be teaching a pisanki workshop on May 10th and 11th at Ski’s Restaurant.


ADrabik

Dedication of the Alexander Drabik Ohio Historical Marker

The date for dedication of the Ohio Historical Marker honoring Alexander Drabik has been set for Saturday, May 28th at 2 PM.  It will be held at 9336 Wolfinger Road off Bancroft Street near Crissy Road in Holland, Ohio.  The Drabik family invites everyone to attend this dedication.

Alexander Drabik

Sergeant Alexander Drabik, the first American soldier to cross the bridge at Remagen, receiving the Distinguished Service Cross for his heroism. April 5, 1945. U.S. Army Signal Corps photograph taken by J Malan Heslop.

The Drabik Family received approval for an Ohio Historical Society Marker entitled: “Birthplace of Alexander Drabik, 1910 – 1993”

The marker will tell the story of Alex’s birth, his Polish ancestry, education and employment.  It will highlight the dangerous crossing of the two-track Ludendorff railroad bridge from Remagen, Germany across the Rhine River to Erpel, Germany.  The interrnational historical significance of Sergeant Drabik’s leadership and actions of Campany A of the 27th Armored Infantry Battalion of the 9th Armored Division will be noted.

The Drabik Family received a $750 grant from the Ohio Historical Society toward the $3,000 cost of the marker, dedication and reception.

PLEASE consider donating to this marker honoring a true hero of WWII.

Checks of $10, $20, $50 or more can be made payable to Drabik OHS Marker and sent to:

Drabik OHS Marker

6051 Angleview Drive

Sylvania, OH  43560

Donors will be listed in the dedication program.

DEDICATION

Dedication date is Saturday, May 28, 2011 at 2 PM, 9336 Wolfinger Road in Holland, Ohio.

Contact: Jackie Konwinski, 419.882.5045

To read more about Sergeant Drabik, go to: www.eyewitnesstohistory.com/remagen.htm

 


easterbasket

Polish Easter Basket

Maslo (Butter) – This dairy product is often shaped into a lamb (Baranek Wielkanocny) or a cross. This reminds us of the good will of Christ that we should have towards all things.

Babka (Easter Bread) – A round or long loaf topped with a cross or a fish, symbolic of Jesus, who is the Bread of Life.

Chrzan (Horseradish) – Symbolic of the Passion of Christ still in our minds.

Jajka (Eggs) and Pisanki (decorated with symbols of Easter, of life, of prosperity) – Indicates new life and Christ’s Resurrection from the tomb.

Kielbasa (Sausage) – A sausage product, symbolic of God’s favor and generosity.

Szynka (Ham) – Symbolic of great joy and abundance. Some prefer lamb or veal. The lamb also reminds Christians that the Risen Christ is the “Lamb of God.”

Slonina (Smoked Bacon) – A symbol of the overabundance of God’s mercy and generosity.

Sol (Salt) – A necessary element in our physical life. Symbolic of prosperity and justice and to remind us that people are the flavor of the earth.

Ser (Cheese) – Symbolic of the moderation Christians should have at all times.

Candle – Represents Christ as the Light of the World.

Colorful Ribbons and Sprigs of Greenery – are attached to the basket as signs of joy and new life in the season of spring and in celebration of the Resurrection.

Linen Cover – drawn over the top of the basket which is ready for the priest’s visit to the home or the trip to church where it is joined with the baskets of others to await the blessing. The food is then set aside and enjoyed on Easter Sunday


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The blessing of the Easter food, or the “Swieconka” is a tradition dear to the heart of every Pole. Being deeply religious, he is grateful to God for all His gifts of both nature and grace, and, as a token of this gratitude, has the food of his table sanctified with the hope that spring, the season of the Resurrection, will also be blessed by God’s goodness and mercy.

Traditions vary from village to village and family to family. They have changed and evolved with each passing generation. Traditionally the food is brought to the church in a basket, often decorated with a colourful ribbon and sometimes sprigs of greenery are attached, with a linen cover drawn over the top (hence “The Traditional Polish Easter Basket”) and blessed by the parish priest on Holy Saturday morning. The food can also be blessed in the home. After the blessing, the food is usually set aside until Easter morning when the head of the house shares the blessed egg, symbol of life, with his family and friends. Having exchanged wishes, all continue to enjoy a hearty meal.

The foods traditionally blessed for Easter can be reduced to three categories:

Easter bread and cakes of all kinds – particularly babka
Meat products, like ham, stuffed veal, suckling pig or lamb, sausage, bacon, etc.;
Dairy products, like butter, cheese (“hrudka” cheese cake), eggs – some shelled, some decorated (“pisanki”); etc.

The blessing of Easter food is one of our most beautiful and most meaningful customs with which our devoted ancestors have enriched us. This centuries old custom is indeed richly symbolic and has a deep liturgical and spiritual meaning. It is one in which the whole family can participate and help prepare. Let us preserve these customs so that they may endure for many generations to come.

All of us can enjoy this beautiful Polish custom by participating at the blessing of the Easter food “Swieconka” at the Polish church nearest you. This is an excellent way to teach the younger members of your family about this treasured Polish tradition. Remember, it is up to us to teach our customs to our children.