The spirit of Poland’s Dyngus is captured in this description from the Poznan region during 1800s:
Poland’s Dyngus, or Smigus, Day is said to hark back to the baptism of the founder of Polish Christianity, Prince Mieszko I (c. 935 – 992), and his entire court, on Easter Monday, 966. Dyngus is an ancient celebration which is still observed both in country villages and the big cities, with singing, pranks, visiting friends’ houses, and the custom of dousing.
The custom of pouring water is an ancient spring rite of cleansing, purification, and fertility – at this time of year there are drenching customs enacted in Sri Lanka and Thailand during their respective New Year celebrations. In a Spring custom of pagan (pre-Christian Slavic) times, the Poles ‘confronted’ (dingen) Nature with their pouring of water and switching with pussy willows to purify themselves for the year ahead. The alternative name for the day comes from smiganie, meaning ‘switching’.
(Boys, don’t do this at home.) On Easter Monday, at around 5 am, the men creep through a neighbour’s window or chimney, often with the collusion of the male family head, into the rooms where the sleeping womenfolk are abruptly awakened by being doused with water. The girls, naturally enough, reciprocate in kind. In cities, where people are refined and perhaps girls more aware, this custom tends to be practised by the use of a sprinkle of water or cologne.
In the first recorded Polish writing on Dyngus Day; a medieval Polish historian wrote of what he termed the Oblewania.
Barely had the day dawned on Easter Monday when I woke the boys and gathered some water to start throwing it on the girls. Up with the Piwezyny! (eiderdown)! There was screaming, shouting, and confusion. The girls are shrieking and hollering, but in their hearts they are glad because they know that she who isn’t gotten wet will not be married that year. And the more they are annoyed, the more we dump water on them calling, Dyngus – Smigus! Then we had to change our clothes because there wasn’t a dry thread on the girls and we boys were not better off.
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