Now that we are done with the Christmas season, let’s reflect on things for a moment. We decorate by bringing dead trees (or fake trees, as I prefer) inside and cover them with shiny balls and little lights. We hang up socks and pretend that an obese man with a white beard fills them with goodies or with coal. We eat candy shaped like a walking aid that mated with a barbershop pole. Christmas is weird.
But then I heard about Dyngus Day.
“What is Dyngus Day?” you ask.
Well, my wife heard about it from a coworker who grew up in Slovakia. He called it “Wet & Whipping Day”, which is a pretty accurate description for what takes place. Dyngus Day originated in Poland, but they celebrate it in Slovakia too. It happens on the Monday (and Tuesday) following Easter Sunday. It is celebrated by boys throwing water on girls they like, then beating them with pussy willows. Sometimes, things are taken to extremes and girls are physically thrown in a river or lake. Often, boys just use water guns to douse the objects of their affection.
Also, according to Deborah Anders Silverman in “Creative Ethics: Creative Ethnics: Dyngus Day in Polish American Communities”, there are traditional songs that are sung. Like this one:
Your duck has told me
That you’ve baked a cake
Your hen has told me
She’s laid you a basket and a half of eggs
Your sow has told me that you’ve killed her son
If not her son then her little daughter
Give me something if only a bit of her fat
Who will not be generous today
Let him not count on heaven.
Huh. How about that?
So is it stranger than how we celebrate Christmas? I think so, but I didn’t grow up with it.
Anyway, when my wife commented to her coworker how strange it was, he countered by pointing out that in America we celebrate Easter by pretending that a rabbit gives out eggs filled with candy.
Maybe all holidays are weird.