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Wednesday, April 24, 2019

What is Wet Wednesday? ~ by Judy Ann Davis

Old Wet Monday Postcard
For those you who missed it, April 22nd ,the day following Easter, is called Smigus-dyngus or Wet Monday in the Slavic communities. It’s an old custom where boys throw water over girls and spank them with pussy willows and is still practiced in Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and parts of western Ukraine. Additionally, the water throwing day, referred to as just Dyngus Day, is also celebrated in Polish American communities across our nation such as in Buffalo, New York; Cleveland, Ohio; and South Bend, Indiana.

Pussy willows appear to have been adopted as an alternative to the palm leaves used elsewhere in Easter celebrations, which were not obtainable in Poland. They were blessed by the priests on Palm Sunday and then treated as sacred charms thought to prevent lightning strikes, protect animals and encourage honey production. They were believed to bring health and good fortune to people as well.

Pysanki Eggs
Girls could save themselves from a soaking by bribing the boys with painted eggs, pysanki, regarded as magical charms that would insure good harvests, successful relationships, and healthy childbirths.

Why throw water? The tradition is said to be traced back to the 14th century with its origin involving the March equinox. In the western Slavic countries, the origin is linked to mythology and the Slavic goddess of fertility. It is sometimes thought to be related to the tradition of watering the “Corn Mother,” who made crops grow and was represented in the form of a doll or wreath made from corn. Drenched in water and held all winter, the doll or wreath was mixed with the seed corn in the spring to ensure a successful harvest.

Today, Dyngus Day has evolved into a different type of festivity. Although the girls are supposed to wait until the following day to get their revenge by soaking the boys, both sexes now throw water over each other on the same day. Wet Monday is a day of celebration with polka bands, a parade, patriotic songs, and the consumption of foods such as sausages, eggs, and traditional Easter dishes. Party goers dress in white and red colors of the Polish flag.

Although I’ve personally never celebrated Wet Wednesday, I can liken it to my two sons who spent all summer dousing each other with a hose, Super Soaker, or buckets of water on a hot day. All I can envision is a clothesline full of wet soggy garments. Somehow, I think the old custom was a lot more fun for the male population than the female. What do you think?


Last week, my latest novel, "Willie, My Love," a historical romantic suspense was released. 

Willie, My Love
The year is 1856. White pine is king of the forest.

The last thing Jonathan Wain wants to do is ride miles through Pennsylvania’s wilderness to help his father’s logging partner in the small settlement of Clearfield. But his family owns clipper ships in the Chesapeake Bay that carry the coveted logs to the markets each spring, and they can’t afford a loss.

The last thing Wilhelmina Wydcliffe wants is a handsome sea captain from Maryland meddling in her father’s logging operations under attack by unknown enemies. A feisty tomboy and better known as Willie to her crews, she has a dream to be the largest logging operator east of the Mississippi River. 

When both Willie’s and Jonathan’s lives are threatened, they are forced to work together to find their enemies before both of their companies are in shambles. But as their attraction to each other escalates, can they set aside their differences, unearth the truth, and discover contentment in each other’s arms



  1. Glad the girls get their own back after being doused. I love hearing about Polish and Polish American customs. Thanks for a fun and interesting post.

  2. Thanks, Bea. I don't think it's something I'd want to do. I don't like shivering in wet clothes. :--)

  3. I've never heard of this before! How very interesting. In this age of gender equality, the girls should get to spank the boys. *g* Good luck with your wonderful new book.


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