Origins of Easter Monday
Easter Monday is a Christian holiday celebrated
in various parts of the world on the day after Easter. [Note 1:
Easter Monday is listed in the Canadian Labour Code as an official holiday
and is celebrated in most Canadian Provinces (not a holiday in British
Columbia). Note 2: It is celebrated as a holiday in the U.S., but only in
the state of North Dakota.] It's exact
origins are unknown, but may have begun in the 10th Century in Poland, to
celebrate the baptism of Prince Mieszko on the Monday after Easter in 966.
Miezko is said to be the person to bring Christianity to Poland. In
Poland the day is called Dyngus or Smigus Day. The traditions of this
holiday may have their origin in the
celebration which took place in the Middle Ages prior to Christianity making
its way to Poland. In some countries in the middle ages, the holiday was
also called Hocktide.
In Poland, the day is celebrated by the men
going from house to house and dousing women friends with water. The
dousing of water was meant to symbolize the baptism of Miezko, but it may
also have its roots from an even earlier pre-Christian era when villagers
used to throw staw men into the lake/river to ward off evil spirits so that
they may have a prosperous spring. The men of the villages found it
much more fun to douse the women with water. The dousing, like a baptism is
also indicative of cleansing and purification. One tradition of this dousing
is that those girls that get very doused will be married within a year.
The tradition of dousing may be include a small
spray, or a full-out dousing. In some countries, such as Canada, the water may also include perfume or cologne.
In Hungary the day is called
or Vizbeveto (Dousing Monday or Ducking
Monday), and the
men & boys would douse the women on Monday, then afterwards, the women would
give them colored eggs. However, the girls got their turn on Tuesday
to drench the boys in water.
As noted above, the day is called Smigus Day,
which comes from the Polish word for switching, which is smiganie.
The men tenderly switch the women on the day. The custom of switching
might come from the pre-Christian tradition in that area where they would
pour water over puss willows to purify themselves each year. This custom is
for the confrontation of nature, which is dingen in polish the root
of Dyngus. The word may also originate from the German word dingen,
which means agreement, evaluate or buy-back. However, it also is also
translated as worthy or proper in Latin.
In the Czeck Republic, the holiday is called
Velikonocni Pondeli and the men switch the women with decorated willow
branches. The women give them colored eggs and sweets so they stop the
In England, Canada and other former British
colonies, men would lift up the women and carry them for a little while.
The women would then lift (or heave) the men on Tuesday. There are two
thoughts to this customs origin: (1) to represent the resurrection of Christ
for the Easter celebration or (2) it was adopted an older non-Christian
tradition to represent the rising of the crops during the Springtime
Trickery & Tom Foolery
In some countries, such as Canada, the
traditional celebration includes playing pranks or tricks on freinds and
loved ones. Many jokes are often told and exchanged as well.
A Day of Food and Merriment
In countries such as Italy, the day is a day of
festive celebration. On Easter Monday (called
Lunedě di Pasqua) families go on picnics and there are
large meals with all kinds of Italian delicacies. In Ireland, it is a day of
celebration. In Ireland, Easter Monday was a holy day where the
faithful would go to mass, however, the rest of the day was spent going to
market, eating, drinking, dancing and having fun. The celebrants would
usually get very rowdy. This led to the Pope to declare Easter Monday
as a regular work day. However, the people still celebrated on each Easter
Monday for years afterwards. However, after many decades, the
celebrations began to fade away - but it has become a national holiday again
(but without as much riotous behavior as before). In Canada, the traditional
feast includes Lamb.
It is a tradition in Bidden England for the
churches to distribute cakes called Bidden Cakes. This tradition began
when (as the myth is told) two women, Elisa and Mary, called the Bidden
Maids, who were joined at the hip (Siamese twins) died, and they left an
endowment to pay for these cakes to be made and distributed on Easter Monday
ever year. The cakes usually have an impression of the twins on them.