EASTER MONDAY: Eggs roll, horses race, ships sail, polka bands play … and water flies for ‘Dyngus Day’

Obama family waves with Easter bunny on White House balcony

The Obamas will host more than 35,000 visitors during the 135th annual White House Easter Egg Roll. Photo released via Wikimedia Commons

MONDAY, APRIL 1: It’s Easter Monday—and that’s no April Fool!

Western Christians the world over rest from their joyous Easter festivities, joining in the centuries-old tradition of Easter Monday. What used to be a week-long, post-Easter celebration was cut down to one day of secular activities in the 19th century; activities like egg rolling, picnics and pussy willow swatting remain popular activities. (Wikipedia has details.) In Roman Catholic countries, it’s common for the faithful to douse one another with the excess holy water blessed at Easter Sunday Mass.

EASTER MONDAY GLOBALLY: AUSTRALIA

What does Easter Monday look like around the world? In Australia, masses head outdoors for the Oakbank Easter Racing Festival. The Oakbank organization proudly boasts: “Oakbank … rivals the Melbourne Cup in size and colour and it’s 70,000 strong crowd annually on Easter Monday makes it the biggest Picnic Race Meeting on Earth.” This is a horse racing event—in fact, it’s one of Australia’s signature thoroughbred racing events, stretching back to the 1800s. Thousands love to crowd around the course to watch the highly demanding Great Eastern Steeplechase at a distance of 4950 meters, a lengthy course by world standards. The most famous jump is the meter-high fallen log. All other jumps are topped with brush fences.

An early snapshot from this year's race. This is an Australian Three Peaks Race photo and, if you click on it, you can jump to the 2013 photo gallery for the event.

An early snapshot from this year’s race. This is an Australian Three Peaks Race photo and, if you click on it, you can jump to the 2013 photo gallery for the event.

Outdoor sporting festivals are hugely popular in Australia around the Easter weekend. The Australian Three Peaks Race is another massive event, which runs for several days. In fact, the stragglers in the grueling event won’t finish until Tuesday. But, the official crescendo of the race weekend, each year, is on Monday. The Three Peaks Race is a unique mash up of sailing and endurance running. Here is the schedule page. Day-by-day race updates are posted on this page. The sailing course is mapped out on this page.

That’s just a sampling of one nation’s major Easter Monday events! Many other countries make this a special day. Germans hold Easter egg races in open fields; Canadians enjoy a public holiday; and, in Guyana, kites made on Holy Saturday are flown high in the sky.

In contrast, Americans are shortchanging themselves on this particular bash. Of course, that’s not true in every community, especially if you’re part of …

DYNGUS DAY

A scene from Buffalo, New York, Dyngus Day. No, this boat isn't fit for sailing, but it is an example of the elaborate creations seen at this century-old festival.

A scene from Buffalo, New York, Dyngus Day. No, this boat isn’t fit for sailing, but it is an example of the elaborate creations seen at this century-old festival.

Shouts of “Everybody’s Polish on Dyngus Day!” ring out through Buffalo, New York, today, as tens of thousands gather for the city’s renowned Dyngus Day events. Buffalo’s Dyngus Day—the world’s largest organized event of its kind—reigns as the largest polka festival in North America, having attracted more than 25 polka bands from across the country last year. Dyngus Day has been traditionally celebrated in the Polish neighborhoods of Buffalo since the late 1800s.

And for our Polish readers, we can say: “Od ponad 120 lat, obchody Lanego Poniedzialku w Stanach Zjednoczonych rozwijaly sie z ludowej polskiej tradycji w niepowtarzalne Polsko-Amerykanskie obchody. Wiekszosc polskich tradycji ludowych obchodzonych w Stanach Zjednoczonych jest oparta na obyczaju pochodzacym z okresu Wielkiej Emigracji Polakow w latach 1880-1920.”

The official website for Buffalo’s festival has been down, occasionally, this season. You can try it at www.dyngusdaybuffalo.com or check out the Dyngus Day Facebook page.

WANT A TASTE OF POLISH CULTURE? Cook up pierogis and chrusciki and everything in between, with suggestions from AllRecipes and Food Network.

WHITE HOUSE EASTER EGG ROLL GETS A DOSE OF HEALTH

The Obamas host the 135th annual White House Easter Egg Roll today, gathering more than 35,000 children and their parents to the lawns of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. for festive games, “Eggtivities” and, of course, the traditional egg roll. Together with celebrity athletes, the Obamas will promote health and the First Lady’s “Let’s Move!” initiative during this year’s event, with cooking demonstrations, health advice and even a Yoga Garden, complete with professional instructors. (Read more in the Washington Examiner.)

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