Category: Easter

Category: Easter

Śmigus Dyngus

Śmigus Dyngus is a celebration held on Easter Monday each year; which traditionally involved men throwing buckets of water over women. The ladies were supposed to wait until the next day to get their revenge by soaking the guys but the reality today is a massive water fight with everyone soaking everyone on the same day.

The day is known affectionately as Wet Monday (lany poniedziałek in Polish) and if you are in Poland on this day, expect to get soaked from head to toe. There are no rules anymore and weapons of choice include water guns, balloons, buckets and anything else that can carry water.

Usually the ladies end up drawing the short stick during this tradition and the prettier they are, the wetter they will be. Very attractive girls can expect to be soaked repeatedly during the day.

In Poland’s rural areas, sneaking into a girl’s home in the morning and throwing a bucket of water over her whilst she is still in bed and then dragging her to a nearby river or pond for a further soaking is not unusual. Sometimes the girl and her bed are thrown in the water together.

There are other rituals associated with Śmigus Dyngus apart from throwing water at each other, including whipping with pussy willow branches, dressing up as bears and other woodland creatures, house-to-house processions and verse declarations.

Traditionally, boys would whip girls with pussy willows on Easter Monday and the girls would reciprocate on the next day. Pussy willow branches were adopted as an alternative to the palm leaves used elsewhere in Easter celebrations, because they were not available in Poland. Prior to the beginning of the whipping, the pussy willow branches were blessed by priests on Palm Sunday.

The origins of Śmigus Dyngus are uncertain but is believed to date back to pagan times and is described in writing as early as the 15th century. The use of water is said to evoke the spring rains needed to ensure a successful harvest later in the year. Girls could save themselves from a soaking by giving boys bribes of painted eggs (pisanki), regarded as magical charms that would bring good harvests, successful relationships and healthy childbirths. Similar traditions can be found all around Central and Eastern Europe.

Easter in Poland

There’s no escaping the connotations that Easter in Poland is all about religion; however this is far from reality, it is also about eating and spending time with your family & friends.

Second only to Christmas, Easter is one of the most beautiful celebrations of the year, it is also a time which marks the end of winter and the promise of sunny weather ahead.

Easter in Poland in linked to the Western Roman Catholic calendar; which dictates that Easter Sunday falls on the first Sunday after the first full moon of spring so there is a pagan connection working alongside Christian rites and practices. Families across Poland take part in Easter celebration regardless of their religious beliefs.

Preparation for the Easter holiday begins with Lent, the 40 days that mark the time prior to Resurrection Day, a time when, traditionally, people were not supposed to eat meat or sweets or enjoy alcohol and tobacco and this practice was once deeply rooted within Polish culture. Nowadays, the majority of Poles do not follow the rules of Lent to the letter and prefer instead to use this period of time to perhaps abstain from one thing such as alcohol or chocolate.

In Poland. the week preceding Easter is all about spring cleaning and getting your property spick and span. It also includes an evening mass on Easter Friday called Droga Krzyżowa (Way of the Cross).

The Saturday before Easter Sunday is traditionally used to paint hard-boiled eggs (pisanki) and prepare Easter baskets (Święconka) ready to take to the church to be blessed. Each basket is filled with a variety of foods and usually contain a piece of sausage, bread, salt & pepper, pisanki, fresh cress or oats and a small sugar or plastic lamb. Each basket is also lined with either a white lace or linen napkin and decorated with sprigs of boxwood.

After being blessed, the Easter basket is taken home and must remain untouched until the next morning, Easter Sunday.

On Easter Sunday, some Poles go to church at 6am for the Resurrection mass; which involves a procession; however the day is primarily focused on family and food. Easter breakfast is a big event in Poland and it includes the contents of the Easter basket in addition to a feast of sausage, ham, roast meats, pâté, eggs, horseradish relish and bread. Its not unusual for the Easter breakfast to take up to 3 hours.

Similar to Christmas with the sharing of opłatek, people at the Easter breakfast will share the contents of the Easter basket. The rules are that the contents must be shared evenly and with everyone.

After the meats comes the cakes with the usual offering being either a sweet yeast cake with a hole in the middle known as a babka or a Mazurek; which is a cake covered in icing topped with almonds, walnuts, dried fruit and roasted seeds. Plus there will always be at least one cheesecake!

The last day of Easter is Easter Monday, known in Poland as Śmigus Dyngus or Wet Monday.