The history and traditions of Dyngus Day, 2024

NOW: The history and traditions of Dyngus Day, 2024

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Dyngus Day is South Bend's political event of the year.

The holiday, which falls the Monday after Easter Sunday, comes from Polish origins. Timothy Hudak, president of the West Side Democratic and Civic Club, has hosted Dyngus Day events for over 40 years. 

“Way back when Christianity came to Poland, this was a day they baptized the new people coming into the Catholic Church, they sprinkled them with water," Hudak said.

When the celebrations came to America, Hudak said, the club decided to also make the holiday the unofficial start to campaign season in South Bend.

“When it came to South Bend, we at the West Side Democratic Club turned it into a political holiday to get the Democratic party elected officials and candidates in the same room together with the voter," Hudak said.

He said in 1930, the Dyngus Day we know in South Bend today was born.

“Dyngus Day is a huge deal for South Bend," said volunteer Ricky Herbst.

Traditions come back year after year, including renaming the road next to the club "Dyngus Day Drive" for the day. A Catholic priest blessed the crowd at the club's annual event, and Democratic candidates gave introductions and speeches.

"Bobby Kennedy was here in 1968," said County Councilmember Diana Hess, "so this is a long-standing tradition of inviting Democratic candidates and kicking off our campaigns.”

But perhaps more popular than the politics is the Polish sausage! Each year, the club offers a polish dinner plate of sausage, sweet and sour cabbage and Polish noodles.

Historically, Dyngus Day has been a Democratic political holiday, but Republicans often get in on the unique trend too! Monday, Hoosiers for Conservative Voices held their first Dyngus Day event, getting roughly 50 guests. They hope to expand in the years to come.

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