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What Is Dyngus Day?

By Sheri Cyprus
Updated May 23, 2024
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Dyngus Day, sometimes spelled Dingus Day, is a holiday that is celebrated in Poland as well as in some Polish communities in the United States. This holiday always takes place on Easter Monday and it's meant to be a fun, light-hearted holiday. It is also called Wet Monday as the tradition of Dyngus Day is for males to soak females with water from buckets, hoses and the like. Traditionally, the females are supposed to get their revenge on Tuesday by throwing dishes, but now most females just soak the men back with water on the same day.

The history of the holiday dates back to the Easter Monday 966 A.D. baptism of the Polish prince Mieszko I. This was a significant baptism because it was taken by the Polish people to mean that all of Poland was Christian. Since baptism is thought to relate to purification, cleansing and fertility, the idea somehow adapted into Dyngus Day and boys soaking girls with water. Water traditions also relate to the mass Lithuanian baptisms that took place after the Lithuanian Duke, Jagiello, and the Polish Queen, Jadwiga, were married.

Dyngus Day is meant as a fun holiday after the serious period of Lent. The actual Easter Monday act of soaking a person with water and/or hitting him or her with switches of pussy willows is called Smigus Dyngus. Originally, Smigus Dyngus referred to a sort of trick-or-treating tradition that has mostly died out in urban areas. It involved the use of a special cart and rooster brought to each house in order to collect food and drink. The rooster was either real or carved from wood.

Still another legend associated with Dygnus Day is one that remembers a Polish Princess named Wanda. The use of water to soak females is said to remember Wanda as she chose to drown herself in the Wilsa River rather than marry a man she didn't love. Religiously, Dyngus Day marks the start of Polish Catholicism.

CulturalWorld.org is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By anon997950 — On Mar 22, 2017

To keep the great tradition, a somewhat new organization known as the Port Richmond Business Alliance is having their first Dyngus Day celebration on April 17, 2017 in the Port Richmond section of Philadelphia. I hope we get a good turnout so I can post the success! Proceeds are intended to help our neighborhood Catholic schools and the Polish American social service.

By anon946619 — On Apr 21, 2014

Dyngus Day is celebrated in South Bend, IN. Unfortunately it has turned into the kick off of the political season and all the politicians come out from under their rocks and blow hot air in our faces. I wish it would be held in the traditional manner.

By anon933604 — On Feb 16, 2014

I grew up and still live in a very old, traditionally Polish neighborhood in Philadelphia called Port Richmond. When I was a kid we celebrated Dingus Day and I never even realized it was a Polish thing until I was much older.

We used to throw water balloons and toss buckets of water on people off of the rooftops and stuff. I remember kids used to throw cheapo cologne and perfume on each other as a joke to stink each other up. Not sure if that part of it was traditional or whatever, but we did it anyway.

It was pretty wild growing up in Philly back in the seventies. I live here still with my family and the kids still do celebrate Dingus Day. (Sad that I had to ask my 12 year old daughter) Funny that I looked it up online and it has lots about Buffalo and some other places but nothing about Philadelphia. Believe me, Dingus Day is alive and well here in the City of Brotherly Love!!

By anon173747 — On May 08, 2011

Dyngus Day festivities are very much alive and thriving in the Buffalo, NY area. I've been putting on a Dyngus celebration for 22 years at the Leonard Post VFW in Cheektowaga. People from all around the country come to celebrate the many festivities that happen the whole Eater weekend in Buffalo, NY. Every year it gets bigger!

By Domido — On May 03, 2011

@laluna - I love the thoughts of Dyngus Day, although I've never participated myself. I think I would rather go with the water version myself! It sounds like fun and too much perfume makes me sneeze! Here's to a Happy Dyngus Day in all its forms!

By dimpley — On May 03, 2011

Dyngus Day sounds like a hoot! I think we should all gather together in mass and bring it back to the forefront of tradition! A whole day of relaxed fun – and I think it could quite easily become another day off from work for many folks! Who doesn’t like the idea of that!

By tlcJPC — On May 02, 2011

Well, this is a great little piece of history! Dyngus Day is something that I was not familiar with, and so I was a little surprised and intrigued with the concept! I think that it sounds like a great way to open up the nicely warm days of spring! I mean, what better way than to have some water fun! And, personally, I am very open to throwing some dishes at the men in my life! Not only might I get in a lick or two, but I’d get to buy all new dishes every single year!

By laluna — On Apr 25, 2011

I have heard of this tradition, however not knowing that dyngus day was a polish tradition. I think there is a slight variation to this custom, however, instead of water being used to spray the ladies, perfume is used instead.

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