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Monday, April 6, 2015

The changing face of Polonia

Historic Polonia is no longer a Polish neighborhood, and the workers at the Broadway Market reflect that changing demographic.
Today is Dyngus Day—the Monday after Easter—celebrated in Buffalo, South Bend, and Cleveland. It originated in Central Europe, where it is still observed, and was brought to the United States by the Slavic Diaspora.
The Broadway Market in 1906, when the East Side was a Polish and German ethnic ghetto.
On St. Patrick’s Day, all of Buffalo is Irish. On Good Friday and Dyngus Day, all of Buffalo is Polish. Historic Polonia is no longer predominantly Polish, but on Easter weekend it returns to its Polish roots.

Pussy willows at the Broadway Market.You don't have to be Polish to enjoy a good party, but it helps.
When I was a youth, Dyngus Day was described as a sort of Polish Sadie Hawkins Day, where boys splashed water on the girls they fancy, and girls collected pussy willow and hit the boys they like. Mostly, though, it’s an excuse for a good parade and party.

Dyngus Day sign from a few years ago at the late, lamented Central Terminal on Paderewski Drive.
As usual, the origins of this festival are lost in the mists of time. In truth, it probably has more to do with the end of Lent than anything, since it always falls on the day after Easter.

If you’re in Buffalo this evening, the Dyngus Day Parade starts at 5 PM, at Corpus Christi Church, 199 Clark St. Festivities at the Pussywillow Park Party Tent start at 3 PM with music from Those Idiots. The complete itinerary is available here.

Let me know if you’re interested in painting with me on the Schoodic Peninsula in beautiful Acadia National Park in 2015 or Rochester at any time. Click here for more information on my Maine workshops! Download a brochure here.

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