Thursday, April 01, 2010

Happy Dyngus Day! Or, Poles Know How to Party


Avid Girl readers (and if this is you, you deserve a medal for putting up with my crap -- I'll order you one later from my Polish catalog. How about the breastfeeding Virgin Mary?) may recall this post from August 2008, in which I cracked wise about the, well, Polish-ness of a certain catalog catering to a certain Eastern European bent.

It turns out -- and I can say this, as I am a Pole to my core -- there's a reason there are so many Polack jokes. There's just so damn much material. In retrospect, it's fitting that my Polish father used to say, "I always wanted to be a stand-up comedian. Or an undertaker."

We see the humor in life, always laugh at ourselves -- and at the same time know that no one's getting out of here alive.

My college roommate V (a Slovak) and I several years ago hosted an Eastern European Easter at my old apartment in Noe Valley. It was a smash hit, and so when she mentioned having Easter dinner at my place this year (she's redoing her kitchen), I thought: Redux! Hence, the research on Polish traditions.

First, I was tickled to come across the idea of "Bitter Lamentations." I mean, that basically is the subtitle for all our family dinners growing up.

But I was quickly diverted by an even juicier tradition that occurs the day after Easter: Smingus-Dyngus [SHMEE-goos DING-goos], or "Wet Monday," in which people douse each other with water in a pseudo-courting ritual that also somehow involves ... pussywillows?

Turns out the biggest U.S. celebration of Dyngus Day is in Buffalo, N.Y. It sounds like a freaking hoot.

My colleague "Fishbone," always quick on the uptake, immediately suggested a T-shirt to commemorate the dousing. Turns out, Polart already beat us to it. "Wetter is Better," it proclaims ... in water-based ink.

Do you SEE why I love this catalog so much?

(It also explains why in fourth grade I got a water pistol in my Easter basket. It didn't work and had to be exchanged -- a travesty I lamented bitterly.)

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