Did you know that Poland has a “soaking people with water” day? Or more correctly, Poland has a “Wet Monday,” known locally as “Smigus Dyngus.” This Polish tradition adds itself to other such Polish festivals like Fat Thursday, Black Friday, All Saints Day and the drowning of Marzanna. So here’s a quick guide to Poland’s Wet Monday, in case you are unaware of what is happening and you end up getting drenched.
Wet Monday takes place annually on Easter Monday in Poland where people get water thrown on them. Traditionally guys soak girls on Monday, and Tuesday is time for revenge, with girls soaking the guys. It is said that if you don’t wake up early on Wet Monday, you will be awoken by having water poured on you. This happens all over the country in family homes, universities and flats. The festival dates back a few centuries. Boys would sneak into girls rooms on Easter Monday and throw buckets of water over them while they were still in bed. After that, the boys would spank the girls with pussy willows. In some Polish regions, boys would chant “Dyngus, dyngus, po dwa jaja; nie chcę chleba tylko jaja”, which translates, more or less, to “I don’t want bread, only eggs.” It is also said that the girl who gets soaked the most will be the next one to get married.
Depending on your outlook on being soaked with water, it may be more of a day to avoid, than one to celebrate. Many Polish girls want to hide away that day for fear of being soaked and embarrassed in public. But generally it is a day that is well-known and celebrated all over Poland and in Polish communities overseas. Similar traditions also exist in Thailand (with Songkran), Lithuania and Slovakia.
Easter Monday every year is Wet Monday. It’s a public holiday in Poland and part of the Easter Christian Festival. It is normally around the start of Polish spring. However, parts of Poland are still covered in snow around this time.
So now that you know all about it, how do you survive this day as a visitor to Poland? First things first, the festival has developed gender-wise, which means it’s not only about girls getting soaked. Everyone is now at risk of getting wet, and in some towns and villages they hold fun water fights and competitions. So no matter who you are, or where you might be on Easter Monday, be sure to be ready for it.
On that day, don’t carry around valuables or electronics. Belongings such as passports, important work documents, laptops and smart phones should not be carried. You could end up completely soaked with a bucket of water and therefore your belongings will be ruined. Secondly, don’t dress up in style. Wear clothes that are less important to you – old and worn T-shirts and jeans, clothes that you don’t mind getting wet. It’s also a good idea to bring spare clothes, especially for girls, who still attract more water than guys.
Stay sharp and keep focused on the people around you. Some people might suddenly come out of the bushes with a bucket of water and throw it on you, so it can also be hard to spot even if you are alert. But it’s not all doom and gloom, it’s only water, and it’s only a bit of fun, so…
Wet Monday is a light-hearted, fun tradition, so why not get involved? Keep your eyes peeled for the organised water fights that take place, look out for the words Smigus Dyngus, Dyngus Day, Wet Monday, Lany Poniedziałek or Poniedziałek Wielkanocny. Here are a few of the organised Smigus Dyngus events this year, many more exist all over Poland.
The town of Nowy Targ is hosting a Smigus Dyngus event, costing 20 złotych. Check their Facebook page for full details.
The gorgeous Polish seaside town of Świnoujście will play host to a Wet Monday event. This would be a unique place to see it as it is also by the sea, and sits on the border to Germany. Full details appear in the local Świnoujście news site.
So good luck, have fun and stay safe on Wet Monday! You might also like to read about these traditions that only Polish people understand.