The Monday following Easter is known to Ukrainians as Dyngus Day, and many Ukrainian American communities will host parades and celebrations to commemorate this holiday. In America, Dyngus Day is celebrated as a fusion of American and Polish traditions, with “polka bands, a parade, consumption of krupnik, and Polish food accompanying American patriotic songs sung in English. Party-goers dress up in the white-and-red colors of the Polish flag and carry balloons saying ‘Happy Dyngus Day’ in English.”
The East Village is filled with Ukrainian enclaves, a result of the area’s historic patterns of immigration, and some of the establishments founded by these communities have become foundations of the neighborhood. Below we have listed a few standout Eastern European entities in the neighborhood that will hopefully help immerse you in the Dyngus Day experience.
Any discussion of the Ukrainian East Village has to start at Veselka. A neighborhood institution since 1954, this East Village eatery serves up traditional Ukrainian fare such as pierogi, borscht, goulash, and many other favorites. Come in, enjoy a traditional meal, and get in the Dyngus Day spirit over some pierogi and kielbasa.
Located on Sixth Street, the Ukrainian Museum is the “largest museum in the U.S. committed to acquiring, preserving, exhibiting, and interpreting articles of artistic or historic significance to the rich cultural heritage of Ukrainians.” Founded in 1976 by the Ukrainian Women’s League of America, the Museum was hailed as one of the finest achievements of the Ukrainian American with its unparalleled array of folk art, exceptional collection of fine art, and extensive compendium of archival materials. In 2005 the museum moved into its current facility in the East Village. Be sure to stop by and learn about the history and culture of one of these Dyngus Day celebrating communities.
First Ukrainian Assembly of God
As Dyngus Day is a holiday associated with Easter, what better place to go than a church associated with the Ukrainian community? The First Ukrainian Assembly of God is a French Second Empire style corner building on 9th Street. Build in 1867, the building was originally the Metropolitan Savings Bank but was converted to a church in 1938. The church then gained landmark designation in 1966. The building is an example of a “fireproof” building, with the Superintendent of Buildings describing it in a report from 1868 as follows:
“In the construction of this building no combustible materials have been used, either externally or internally, where masonry or ironwork could be made available, rendering the same fireproof. Were buildings constructed after the manner of the Metropolitan Savings Bank, the frequency of conflagrations, and the immense destruction of merchandise by fire and water, which have from time to time visited upon our city, would be materially lessened, if not altogether prevented. It is one of the handsomest and most thoroughly constructed buildings in the city, and is a perfect model in its precaution against fire.”
The church was also featured in our program series “OMG!: Churches and Synagogues of Greenwich Village.”