Monday, April 9, 2012
H is for H2O
In Poland (and many other eastern European countries), Easter Monday has historically been celebrated by dousing people with buckets of water and whipping their ankles. Really.
The practice dates to the fifteenth century, and was possibly connected to the Easter Monday exchange of pysanky (those fancy Easter eggs). If someone gave you pysanky and you didn't have any to give back, you got whipped or sprinkled.
It soon developed into a *sweet* courting ritual in which a young man would wake his beloved by sneaking into her bedroom (often with her mother's assistance, if she approved of the match) and dumping buckets of water over her. Nothing says "I love you" like a gallon of water on your head before sunrise. Apparently how drenched you were by the end of the day evolved into a sort of badge of honor: the cuter you were, the more you were targeted. (And the whipping mostly fell by the wayside, much to the relief of attractive young women.)
Dyngus Day is still celebrated in Eastern Europe and certain Polish pockets of the United States, most notably Buffalo, New York. Girls are no longer the only acceptable targets, and in this age of equality, all the boys get soaked, too.
So if you're feeling a desire to connect with the past, I recommend buying some water balloons. Or just a bucket. (And if you decide to test this method of declaring your affection for your crush, please let me know how it goes. Or maybe put it on YouTube....)