Tonight, my sister-in-law prepared some traditional Polish foods for us to celebrate Dyngus Day! She grew up in Northwest Indiana where entire towns celebrate Dyngus Day. When asked to explain Dyngus Day (the Monday following Easter), she described it as a day of indulgence following Lent, much like Fat Tuesday is a day of indulgence prior to Lent or St. Patrick’s Day is a free pass from the Pope in the middle of Lent.
She also mentioned that it was a day to play jokes on your friends and most people carry around squirt guns, which seems to be more closely related to the origins of Dyngus Day described at wikipedia. The traditions of soaking each other to bring on the essential Spring rains is not something that sounds worthy of celebration to me, but I might get squirt guns for the kids’ Easter baskets next year.
There is a loose tie to Easter in that girls could save themselves from being drenched by offering a “dingnis” or ransom of a brightly painted egg. I’m happy to share the left over Easter eggs to avoid being drenched and to enjoy a feast of Polish sausage, sauerkraut, and perogies.