Dyngus Day on April Fool’s Day! No Joke!

On Monday, April 1, something very strange occurred: Dyngus Day (a traditional Polish-American holiday celebrated on the first Monday after Easter) and April Fool’s Day (traditionally celebrated each year on April 1) fell on the same day.  According to Professor James T. Callow, who’s Folklore Collection is among the more interesting offerings in our digital archives, this is a rare event.  It’s quite unusual for these two celebrations of mischief to fall on the same day.

What is Dyngus Day?

Tradition has it that Dyngus Day celebrates the lifting of the restrictions associated with Lent and Easter.  During the Monday following Easter, local boys would chase the local girls with pussy willows to whip the backs of their legs and buckets of water to splash them.  These days, Dyngus Day is still celebrated in some areas of the country with a focus on the Polish-American heritage of the community. The pussy willow whips and buckets of water have now been replaced by polka music, traditional food, a lots of laughter.

And April Fool’s Day?

While a bit more popular, April Fool’s Day is also associated with the lifting of restrictions surrounding the Easter holiday.  People around the world delight in a day filled with practical jokes and hoaxes.  As long as the joker shout’s “April Fool!” as part of his or her deception, harmless tricks can be played on others all day.

Combining these two celebrations may be a bit risky, but merriment is assured in one way or another.

The James T. Callow Folklore Archive

The Folklore Archive currently contains ” … 42,000 folklore traditions taken from field notes gathered by UDM (formerly University of Detroit) students as part of their course work…”  Materials in the archive were gathered between 1964 and 1993.