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Dancing the Dyngus Day away <br> Teen celebrates heritage as member of the Harmony Polish Folk Ensemble

Everyone loves holidays. Why? They mean no school, or getting presents, or seeing family members that you might not get to see all the time. One holiday that not everyone knows about is Dyngus Day, and it holds a special place in 15-year-old Amber Danks' heart.

Dyngus Day is a Polish holiday that is celebrated the day after Easter Sunday.

The Rev. Czeslaw Krysa describes Dyngus Day on "Historically a Polish-American tradition, Dyngus Day celebrates the end of the often restrictive observance of Lent and the joy of Easter. Over the decades, Dyngus Day has become a wonderful holiday to celebrate Polish-American culture, heritage and traditions."

Every year people all over Western New York celebrate it, but Amber and the Harmony Polish Folk Ensemble do something more. Harmony Polish Folk Ensemble, or HPFE, is a group of Polish-American cultural dancers who perform all over Western New York.

"Last year on Dyngus Day, being a member of the Harmony Polish Folk Ensemble and being very Polish, I went to different locations around Buffalo performing," Amber, a xxxxxx at xxxxxx high school, recalled.

As is tradition, HPFE spends Dyngus Day touring Western New York and performing in numerous shows and parades.

"As usual on every Dyngus Day, we start performing in the morning. During the day, we perform at locations such as the Central Terminal, nursing homes and churches," Amber said.

After a long day's work, well, a long day of dancing, most people would head home to rest, but not Amber. In the evening, HPFE heads off to all the local parties. Last year, the dancers took a tour bus to their nighttime performances. While some people might think that this is an odd ritual, Amber considers it to be a good life experience.

"This experience is especially good for teens because it shows them a major part of what their heritage is all about, and it also puts them in the 'party' scene. This will help them prepare for what they may see as they get older," Amber said. "Not only that, but it makes teens aware of how laid back and fun people of all ages can be."

This year Dyngus Day is Monday. Anyone is welcome to attend these exciting festivities. Watching the Harmony Polish Folk Ensemble perform is a good way to get a look at another culture, not to mention the great Polish food that is sure to be lurking at many of the performance locations.

HPFE will be performing at the Dyngus Day Parade at 5 p.m., which begins at the Broadway Market and makes its way through the streets of the city's historic Polonia District; the Buffalo Central Terminal, 495 Paderewski Drive; Corpus Christi Church, 199 Clark St.; Polish Cadets, 927 Grant St.; and, if time allows, Polonia Hall, 385 Paderewski, and Adam Mickiewicz Library, 612 Fillmore Ave.

Amber looked back on all the fun times she has had on Dyngus Day and said: "I look forward to Dyngus Day every year because it's always a lot of fun. I get to catch up with old friends I haven't seen and become closer with the ones I have recently made."

Emily M. Spina is a sophomore at Starpoint High School.

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