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Polish Smigus-Dyngus Day Celebrations

Good-Natured Fun on Easter Monday


Smigus-Dyngus Casserole hot out of the oven.

Smigus-Dyngus Casserole hot out of the oven.

(c) 2008 Barbara Rolek licensed to About.com, Inc.

In Poland, Easter Monday is known as Wet Easter Monday or Lany Poniedzialek and is celebrated as Śmigus-Dyngus Day (SHMEE-gooss DIN-gooss) when boys try to drench girls with buckets of water, squirt guns, whatever's available. In some towns, they use twigs to switch the girls. The tradition has it if a girl receives a drenching or switching, she will marry within the year. I imagine, over the years, more than one young lady with marriage on her mind has allowed herself to be caught!

This somewhat bizarre practice has at its core the pagan spring rite of pouring water and switching oneself with willows as a means of cleansing, purification, and making things right with dingen -- the god of nature. It also commemorates Poland's conversion to Christianity and the baptism of Prince Mieszko in 966 A.D.

The soaking tradition is kept alive in many American towns, most notably Buffalo, N.Y., where a festival is built around it. And not only are females on the receiving end, turnabout is fair play with everybody dousing everybody else!

If getting soaked to the skin isn't your idea of fun, try celebrating with a Śmigus-Dyngus Casserole. The dish of decidedly American origin is made with leftover kielbasa and sauerkraut from Easter dinner.

But don't wait until next Śmigus-Dyngus day to try it. It makes a great fast dinner and potluck dish any time of the year.

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