WHAT IS DYNGUS DAY?
“DYNGUS DAY” is historically a Polish tradition which celebrates the end of the often restrictive observance of lent and the joy of Easter. A special celebration held the Monday after Easter, a day of feasting, drinking, playing pranks and merrymaking.
The traditions of Dyngus Day predate Christianity, in Poland, by hundreds of years and are derived from pagan celebrations welcoming the spring. Young men would signal their amorous intentions to young women by dousing them with water.
In one interpretation of this tradition, the young man sneaks into his intended’s bedroom, most likely with the complicity of the young woman’s mother or father, and wakes her with a bucket of cold water. Women would respond by beating young men with pussy willows.
Thus it is known as Wet Monday in Poland, or Smigus-Dyngus. Smigus means to strike, more or less, evoking the pussy willows, while dyngus means a worthy gift or ransom, referring to the small gifts, often decorated eggs that were exchanged as part of the holiday.
So pussy willows signify the advent of spring and rebirth, water signifies life and fertility, the celebratory eating and drinking signifies relief. Naturally, on Tuesday, after Easter (known as poprawiny), the girls would have their day and reciprocate.
At modern Dyngus Day parties it is common practice that both men and women splash and switch each other with water and pussy willows equally. Over the decades, Dyngus Day has become a wonderful holiday to celebrate Polish-American culture, heritage and traditions.
Check out this facebook page dedicated to Dyngus Day: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Dyngus-Day/43792229902?sk=wall