By Kasia Skrzypczak, KONTAKT, Poland.
Easter Monday customs and celebrations in Greater Poland (Wielkopolska) are really unique, They origin from the Slavic folk culture and are still popular nowadays.
Easter Monday – Śmigus-dyngus
Greater Poland (Wielkopolska) has always been famous as a region where people go around playing water pranks (i.e. they “go dyngus”) on Easter Monday. Nowadays, the tradition is still very popular even in big cities like Poznan. Boys chase all girls and women in the morning in the streets and douse them with water. At homes the one who gets up first on Easter Monday sprinkles the rest of the sleeping family with water.
Moreover, going around with a bear on Easter Monday afternoon used to be a common custom in Greater Poland (Wielkopolska). It can be still observed in some villages. Żandary, A procession of young boys in fancy dress would pass through the village. At the head would be a bear wrapped in straw and led on a rope by a handler, who would make the animal perform tricks and awkward jumps. The group would be accompanied by a grandmother with a basket and a grandfather. Other figures like a chimney sweep, policeman, musician and horse would sometimes appear as well, depending on the custom of the village. This procession would go around the entire village, entering huts and singing songs like “We’re going dyngus…” This going dyngus with a bear was a way of collecting payment in the form of eggs, pancakes, sausage, cheese and money for having doused the girls of the village with water in the morning. These presents were brought along to the communal merrymaking in the evening.
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