My mother’s side of the family is Polish, and through this I was introduced to the celebration of “Dyngus Day” the day after Easter Sunday. I thought I’d share a little about what this celebration is about, and how it connects in a Catholic sense with the Easter season!
The celebration of Dyngus Day in the United States (and my experience) is sort of a combination of what St Patrick’s Day is for the Irish and what Mardi Gras is before Lent. It celebrates the cultural heritage of Polish Americans with polka music, authentic Polish sausage/kielbasa, pierogi, and other traditional things. It also is connected to celebrating the end of Lent, and this is something I have come to appreciate more and more over the years!
Whereas Mardi Gras has a sense of cramming in a last bit of celebration before the fasting of Lent, Dyngus Day has a note of continuing and developing the joy of the Resurrection! Too often we can think of Easter as a single day, when in our faith Easter Sunday is celebrated for an entire octave of eight days, and the Easter season the fifty days until Pentecost! Commemorating Easter Monday helps to prepare for a season of joy. This reminds me of a reflection given by Venerable Fulton Sheen, who spoke of two approaches to life: the pattern of feasting followed by headache (the approach that seeks to grab what it can today at the expense of tomorrow) and the pattern of fasting followed by feasting (the approach that takes the effort to lay the groundwork today so that tomorrow can be a true celebration).
I am thankful to the great tradition of faith connected with my Polish ancestry – Our Lady of Czestochowa, St Faustina and the Divine Mercy devotion, St Maximilian Kolbe, and Pope St John Paul II, to name just a few parts of it! And although (as with St Patrick’s Day) some would see Dyngus Day as merely an excuse for a party, I would include it as a part of this list for the way that it inaugurates a great season of thanksgiving. God bless!