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Dyngus Day DC
April 22, 2019 at 6:00 pm - 11:00 pm
What’s Dyngus Day? Glad you asked! It’s a spring holiday that somehow involves polka dancing, water guns, and pussy-willow fights. Still confused? We asked the founder of Dyngus Day DC (free), local veterinarian Matthew Antkowiak, to walk us through it.
Wait, this is a real holiday?
It is! Started in Poland more than 1,000 years ago, Dyngus Day is held on the Monday after Easter to celebrate the end of Lent and the beginning of spring. Boys and girls chase one another around, splashing objects of their affection with water and hitting them with pussy willows. “It’s goofy in a lot of its traditions,” says Antkowiak. “It’s wrapped up in these rites of spring. Water is fertility. I have no idea where the pussy willows came from.”
Really? Splashing and pussy willows?
“We put squirt guns and pussy willows at every table,” says Antkowiak. “It’s supposed to be a gentle whacking.” At this DC event, there’s also traditional Polish food such as pączki, pierogi, and kielbasa available to buy, as well as Polish beer.
How did it come to DC?
A native of Buffalo, Antkowiak grew up around one of the biggest Dyngus celebrations in the world. In 2017, he convinced a skeptical Biergarten Haus that it’s a real thing. “Biergarten didn’t believe me,” he says. “But ridiculously, we had like 200 people show up, and that was just word of mouth.”
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