Dyngus Day Pierogies


Contributing Writer
Vicki McGraw
Elegant Edibles Catering

I’m so excited! It’s almost Dyngus Day!! What? You don’t know what Dyngus Day is? Well, if you have any Polish ancestors or grew up in western New York, you have surely heard of the celebration that takes place the day after Easter. The celebration is most notably remembered for the practice of swatting each other with pussy willow branches and sprinkling each other with water. Yes, you read that right, part of this celebration involves swatting each other on the backside with pussy willow branches!

If you are not familiar with this, let me give you a little background… A Polish celebration, Dyngus Day dates back to 966 A.D. and has been associated with the christening of Prince Mieszko I. Historically, Dyngus Day celebrates the end of the often restrictive observance of Lent. Tradition states that the practice of sprinkling water on one another symbolizes the spring rite of cleansing, purification and fertility, as well as thanksgiving for the bringing of Christianity to Poland. In more modern times, it continued with farm boys sprinkling water on girls they liked (this also being a sign of good luck), and then progressed the swatting them on the legs and backside with pussy willow branches. Love and matchmaking seem to have become a pleasant addition to the tradition!

Western New York, and the Buffalo area specifically, offer huge Dyngus Day celebrations. The celebrations include what else…food and music! In addition to parades, Polka dancing is a favorite pastime, as well as feasting on traditional Polish food, such as kielbasa, ham, pierogies, fresh breads and eggs. Again, the feasting ties in with the end of the Lenten season of restrictions. The parties are huge joyous events, and I believe if you aren’t already, you can become Polish simply by joining in the fun! If you have never made the trip to Buffalo’s Broadway Market at Easter time, I would recommend doing so. The traditional Polish foods are readily available and pussy willow branches are there, ready for the swatting! Personally, my favorite part of the market is the heavenly scent of Easter flowers that envelopes you as soon as you walk in the door!

Whether you are Polish or not, Dyngus Day is a fun way to celebrate the joy of the Easter season, and a wonderful holiday to celebrate the Polish-American culture, heritage and traditions! You have less than a week to get your supplies ready, so grab some pussy willow branches and a squirt gun a “Dyngus-away”!!


  • 4 ½ c flour
  • 2 t salt
  • 2 T butter, melted
  • 2 C sour cream
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 T vegetable oil
  • 8 baking potatoes, peeled, cubed and boiled until tender
  • 1 C shredded cheddar cheese
  • 2 T sour cream
  • Salt and pepper to taste

In a large bowl, stir together the flour and salt. In a separate bowl, wish together the butter, sour cream, eggs, egg yolk and oil. Stir the wet ingredients into the flour until well blended. Cover the bowl with a towel and let rest 15-20 minutes.

Mash potatoes with cheddar cheese, sour cream, salt and pepper while still warm. Set aside to cool.

Divide dough into two balls. Roll out one piece at a time on a lightly floured surface until it is thin enough to work with but not so thin that it tears. Cut into circles. Brush edges with a little water and spoon some filling into the center. Fold the circle over into half circles and press to seal the edges. Once all are done, place on a cookie sheet and freeze.

To cook pierogies, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Drop pierogies in one at a time. They are done when they float to the top. Do not over boil or they will become very soggy! After boiling, I like to fry my pierogies in a lightly oiled saute pan until they are golden and browned on the edges.

To read more of Vicki McGraw’s commentaries on good cooking, fine recipes and perfect party treats, visit www.jamestowngazette.com and click on Join Me in the Kitchen’s own page. The Jamestown Gazette is proud to present our county’s most creative and original writers for your enjoyment and enlightenment.