Today in Poland we celebrate a holiday known as Śmingus Dyngus day, also known as Wet Monday. Initially, Śmigus and Dyngus were separate holidays. Śmigus mainly consisted of symbolically striking willow or palm trees on one’s legs and pouring cold water over oneself, and Dyngus was about visiting friends and people at random.
The first mentions of the tradition of Śmigus Dyngus in Poland come from the 15th century.
The genesis of folk customs celebrated on Easter Monday is related to the practices of the Slavs, who worshiped joy after the end of winter and the awakening of spring.
The Slavs believed that dousing with water was supposed to promote fertility, which is why mainly unmarried maidens were doused. Nowadays, in Poland, smigus-dyngus is treated as a folk game. Contrary to the original traditions, water is poured over everyone, without exception.
Our reporters asked residents of Warsaw what they thought of the wet holiday.
“At the moment Śmingus Dyngus is not visible in the streets at all. And in our times Śmingus Dyngus relied on the fact that the young people poured buckets of water on each other. That was the difference.”
“In my time, unfortunately, boys were running around with buckets and soaking people. And they weren’t necessarily their friends. Now, in my opinion, it is much calmer.”
“Today, nothing is happening with Śmingus Dyngus. In our time,buckets of water were poured over them. But now nothing happened. We just squirted a little water over our small grandchildren and that’s all.”
In the 16th century, the Polish tradition was widely adopted by the Hungarians. To this day, it is the practice to pour water on women in keeping with the original tradition.
Mexicans are also drenched with water, not on Monday but on Holy Saturday. Far Eastern communities practice Songkran – which literally means “Pouring Water Festival.” This is how the end of the calendar year is celebrated in Thailand.