Definition: Śmigus-Dyngus Day
is a Polish tradition observed on Easter Monday or Wet Easter Monday (Lany Poniedzialek
) when boys douse girls with water and switch their legs. It has at its core the pagan spring rite of pouring water and switching oneself with willows as a means of cleansing, purification, and fertility, 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. In recent years, turnabout is fair play and girls have taken to soaking and switching boys (but usually on Easter Tuesday). Smigus-Dyngus is observed in some American communities, most notably Buffalo, N.Y. Smigus
refers to the drenching and twitching aspect of the holiday, and dyngus
refers to the pranks that are played. They were once two separate customs but, at some point in history, they were merged into smigus-dyngus.
Pronunciation: SHMEE-gooss DIN-gooss
Alternate Spellings: smingus-dyngus, smingus-dingus, smigus-dingus
Buffalo, N.Y., has one of the largest Śmigus-Dyngus Day celebrations in the United States.