The Nationwide Water Fight

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.

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The Joys of Easter

Sitting down for a family meal, filled with the joys of Easter and the hope that comes with new beginnings. But what does Easter actually mean?

The word Easter comes from the Saxon word, Eastra, the goddess of spring, in whose honour sacrifices were made at this time each year. However, even though people generally agree that Easter has pagan roots, its actual origins are cause for debate.

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According to the theory, Eastre was the goddess of the east. Her symbol, a hare, was that of fertility. However, this theory causes problems as there is no actual evidence that Eastre was worshipped by any civilisation. Her name is mentioned in the writings of an eighth-century monk and historian, Bede, but after that there is no reference to her in any historical documents, with no shrines or altars in existence.

So, although many assert that Easter is rooted in pagan festivals and sacrifices, this assumption is not backed up with any evidence. Instead, the only Easter custom that differs from the Christian traditions is the commercialised focus on Easter eggs.

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But the damage is done. Because of the commercialisation and possible pagan origins of Easter, many churches prefer to call it ‘Resurrection Sunday’. They seem to hope that moving the focus from Easter to Christ will save people from the temptations of chocolate.

Christians celebrate Easter as the resurrection of Christ, three days after His crucifixion. It is the oldest Christian holiday, preceded by the season of Lent, a 40-day period of fasting and repentence, followed by a 50-day period between Easter and Pentecost.

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In the end, the answer is that no one knows where Easter comes from, and it’s up to each individual to decide what it means for them. For some, this might mean a time for celebrating Christ rising from the grave, and for others, Easter is simply a time to be thankful for new life and new beginnings.

Take a walk. Revel in the beauty of the nature. And enjoy yourselves, however you decide to spend this day.

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Switching into Travel Mode

Everyone knows the feeling.

A week, maybe two, before going on holiday, the buzz hits.

A wave of excitation, exasperation, and exhaustion floods your brain, and you go crazy. Rushing around the house in this half-dazed panic state. Where are the passports? Where are our clothes? Where are our toothbrushes?

Hang on a sec, why are we packing the toothbrushes? We still need them!

There are piles of clothes everywhere. Wardrobes are turned inside out searching for those old swimming trunks, only to find out they don’t fit! Right. Off shopping. Let’s spend hundreds of pounds on beach towels, white t-shirts, and a brand new kettle since you’re scared that other countries don’t understand the British love of tea.

Eventually the day arrives and you all pile into a taxi headed straight to the airport. After a few setbacks, such returning to pick up the passports, and then the children, you realise you forgot the toothbrushes. It’s a unanimous agreement that they’re not worth another trip back to the house. Guess you’ll be picking some up in Duty Free.

Finally, after all the commotion and hassle, you can sit back in a metal box with wings, and watch as the ground gets further and further away.

In the end, is it really worth it?

Hell yes.

All the preparation, aka running around like a headless chicken, is just part of the fun. But don’t worry, there are always clever tips to lessen the stress.

If you’re ever lucky enough to travel, go for it. There are so many amazing places out there to explore. Don’t waste such an incredible opportunity.

Switch into Travel Mode and enjoy the ride.