The Dyngus Day Tradition You Never Knew About
There are several Dyngus Day traditions that we look forward to every year, but there’s one tradition that we may have forgotten about.
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You are probably familiar with the Dyngus Day traditions of pierogies, dancing, and wearing red…yeah? Those are pretty much unchanged from many years ago.
However, when it comes to our traditions of squirt guns and pussy willows, you may be shocked to learn that it is actually a modified version. Back in the day, it was slightly different.
What Was The Original Tradition Of Dyngus Day?
Before it was squirt guns, it was five gallon buckets. Seems like a lot, right? WYRK’s Rob Banks from Clay & Company caught up with Mike Knat at the Broadway Market who explained to us what it used to be like back in Poland on Dyngus Day.
“They have buckets of water,” Knat said. “Five gallon buckets.”
“They will [find] a girl and both guys, one guy over on this side, one guy over on the [other] side, and whoosh,” Knat made a gesture to show the dumping of water from the bucket.
When asked if the girls like that, Mike Knat seemed to shrug before calling it a “pre-dating ritual.”
But don’t think that the women won’t come after you. Knat told us, “She’s not going to stand and let you throw five gallons of water on her. She’s coming after you…if she’s interested.”
When Knat was telling us about how the women would get their “revenge,” per say, he only mentioned how they would use pussy willows to come after the guys with tree branches.
It doesn’t look like they always used pussy willows, though….
Secret Dyngus Day Tradition?
The ladies can strike back on Tuesday and with more than just pussy willows. According to Holiday Insights, a website that takes an inside look at the holidays we celebrate every year, the women used to get their revenge on Tuesday following Dyngus Day and, tradition has it, the ladies would “throw dishes or crockery back at the boys.” Now, it is more common for the guys and the girls to playfully attack each other on Monday with squirt guns or pussy willows.
Why Pussy Willows?
According to the official Dyngus Day website, pussy willows play a major part in Buffalo’s Dyngus Day celebrations, but the way those branches got their name is rather interesting.
The Polish legend has it that many springs ago, baby kittens fell into a raging river while chasing butterflies. The mother cat was unfortunately weeping at the river’s edge, pleading for help for her drowning kittens. These willows heard her mournful cries and swept their long branches into the water, which allowed the little kittens to grab the branches, hold on tightly with their paws, and they were safely rescued and brought to shore.
After that one spring day, we have always remembered those willow branches with fur-like buds as the ones that saved those kittens.
Dyngus Day Parade
Another yearly tradition in Buffalo, New York, the Dyngus Day capital of the world, is the Dyngus Day parade! Buffalo's Dyngus Day Parade will begin at 5:30 p.m. at Memorial Drive and then head west along Broadway to Fillmore Avenue. You can find out more here.
After all, it’s Dyngus Day in Buffalo! (By the way, that’s a song…you can hear it below.)