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Lesson Transcript

Hello, and welcome to the Culture Class- Holidays in Poland Series at PolishPod101.com. In this series, we’re exploring the traditions behind Polish holidays and observances. I’m Michael, and you're listening to Season 1, Lesson 8. Wet Monday. In Polish, it’s called lany poniedziałek. In previous lessons, we’ve discussed a few holidays related to Easter. Now it's time to talk about the last one, Wet Monday, which as the name suggests, always falls on the Monday right after Easter. It is a very cheerful day, and its most important symbol is woda, meaning water.
Now, before we get into more detail, do you know the answer to this question-
In Poland there are three different names for Wet Monday. You know one already. Can you guess the other two?
If you don't already know, you’ll find out a bit later. Keep listening.
Originally, Easter Monday was a pagan holiday. In the past, it was believed that pouring water on others would drive the winter away and accelerate the arrival of spring. It was also believed that pouring water on people would promote płodność- or fertility, which is why it was usually the boys who poured water on the girls. There were also traditions in most villages to play practical jokes on neighbors, by doing things such as hiding their water buckets or tools. These days, this holiday is called śmigus. There was another, somewhat related holiday during these times called the dyngus, where the aim was to avoid having water poured on oneself, and people who were successful would be rewarded with a treat. It is unknown when the holidays merged to become one.
This tradition of pouring water on each other has survived to this day. However, people in Poland do not attach any special meaning to it. The most popular vessels for soaking others included psikawka, which are plastic eggs filled with water; water guns known as pistolet na wodę, used drink bottles, balloons filled with water, and the most traditional one, wiadro or buckets. People pour water on each other everywhere they go—at home and on the streets. Sometimes, people can't control themselves and pour water on the elderly or unsuspecting passerby, which can be punishable by fines.
In Cracow there is another long-standing tradition. It’s an Emmaus—also known as a fair—which has taken place on the Salwator estate since the Middle Ages. Originally, the main destination for visitors was the local church, which is one of the oldest in Cracow. Featuring a variety of stalls selling handicrafts, sweets, typical gingerbread hearts and wooden figurines, the fair eventually became an integral part of Emmaus.
Another interesting event occurs on this day every year in the town of Kaziemierz Dolny. Ever since 1903, when the town's volunteer fire brigade was formed, firefighters, or strażacy in Polish, have driven into the market with their sirens turned on, and poured water on the pedestrians and buildings from the truck’s water cannons.
Now it's time to answer our quiz question-
In Poland there are three different names for Wet Monday. You know one already. Can you guess the other two?
Wet Monday can also be called Poniedziałek Wielkanocny, which means Easter Monday, as it falls on the day after Easter. The third name for it is śmigus-dyngus and if you listened carefully, you know why!
How did you like this lesson? Did you learn anything interesting?
Is there a holiday similar to Wet Monday in your country?
Leave us a comment letting us know at PolishPod101.com!
See you next time!