I don’t know about you guys, but in a world filled with the stress of work and school, family time is a rare occasion. No one has the chance to sit down for a proper meal, or waste an evening playing board games, or even head out for a stroll in the park.
But in our family there is always one day reserved every year for letting go of all our worries. Everyone, from young to old, joins in the fun, and no one is safe until the clock strikes noon. Welcome to Śmigus-Dyngus: Poland’s National Water Fight Day.
The exact origins of this tradition are disputed, but it seems to be a celebration of spring and fertility. For our family, it was the chance to let loose after a week of holy obligation.
I recall how, year after year, we would meet up at a tucked away cafe on Easter Monday. The dogs would race up and down the sand, chasing the waves, while attemping to keep their paws dry. The adults would be in charge of setting up the picnic. But me and my sister, we had our eyes on the prize.
After spending the previous week hunting through shops, we’d finally found the perfect weapon: a water pistol. Armed and ready, we would sidle up to the family, that well-known mischievious glint in our eyes. Once the adults had all been given a good soaking, everyone could sit down to enjoy the lovely food our Grandmother had prepared.
But one year our Uncle decided to play dirty. I was filling up my water gun. My sister, charged with look out duty, was distracted. And he struck. A whole litre bottle of ice cold liquid drenched my back.
It’s safe to say that was the end of our annual family water fight. I was too traumatised to continue the battle. And from then on, we stuck to flicking a few drops of water at each other – a much safer tradition.
You have been warned.
If you’re ever in Poland on Easter Monday, bring waterproofs. And while you’re always welcome to join in the fun, be prepared for revenge.
Stay safe, folks.