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Dyngus Day - Easter Monday after Easter Sunday

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -

Monday is Dyngus Day in Michiana. Do you know the history of the holiday? We looked into it for you.

“If we don’t do Dyngus Day here, this neighborhood really don’t have anything going for it,” said Timothy Hudak, president of the West Side Democratic Club in South Bend.

After Easter Sunday, some celebrate Easter Monday.

“We here on the West Side were mostly Polish [decades ago] and that’s what we did,” said Hudak.

It was 1920 when Dyngus Day first came to the West Side Democratic Club.

It’s a holiday that has been celebrated overseas for centuries, after devout Christians wrapped up a lengthy Easter season of prayer and mass.

The day focused on family, food, and fun.

Tradition has it that young boys would chase the little girls they like with buckets of water or tree branches.

Hudak said he and his friends would do just that in the streets of South Bend when they were children.

“Sometimes things got out of hand and there was a lot of water fights going on in the neighborhood but everything was fun and nobody got hurt and we had fun doing it,” said Hudak.

That tradition has been replaced in South Bend with politics.

Hudak – who’s been president of the club since 1987 – said politicians have been invited to meet with voters on Dyngus Day since the 1940s.

“It just seemed to fit and it helps with getting people together,” he said. “Food, folks, and fun – putting them together in one room.”

And the food is not to be ignored.

“When I came on board they were just doing sausage and eggs,” said Hudak. “And I come on board and I decided, well, that’s a little boring and there’s more to Polish food than that.”

So the club now serves up Polish sausage, eggs, noodles, and sweet and sour cabbage.

And even if you’re not Polish, Hudak said you’re welcome to celebrate.

“Everyone’s Polish on Dyngus Day,” he said.

Hudak said Dyngus Day was a paid holiday in South Bend up until the late 1970s.

Senator Joe Donnelly will be among the many politicians to stop by the West Side Democratic Club Monday morning starting at 5 a.m.

Hudak said if you come to drink and be merry, the club has a designated driver program in place to make sure you get home safe. 

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