What happened on Easter Monday? According to a couple of newspapers and a Christian website I read, nothing! But that cannot be true- after the drama of Good Friday, the depression of Black Saturday and the joy of Resurrection Sunday, what followed?
Although in the UK we celebrate Easter Monday as a bank holiday that means little more than another day of work for most people and crowded roads. But that’s not the case in other countries. In the Eastern Orthodox tradition Easter Monday is also known as Bright Monday, or Renewal Monday and Wet Monday (because people pour water over one another). My absolute favourite is Easter Monday being known as Dyngus Day.
I’m currently in Australia and when I mentioned this they thought I was talking about ‘Dingos day’. But Dyngus Day is a Polish (and especially a Polish-American) tradition. In 966AD Prince Mieszko was baptised and Dyngus Day came to celebrate that. It marked the continuation of Easter week which starts with Easter Sunday and ends by the following Sunday, known as Thomas Sunday.
Over time the tradition developed into the custom of farm boys seeking to woo the girls of their choice by throwing water and hitting the girls on their legs with twigs or pussy willow. The more romantic used cologne instead of water! On the Tuesday it was traditional for the girls to respond by throwing dishes and crockery! Today the parties begin midmorning and include a large buffet of traditional Easter foods (kielbasa, ham, fresh breads, and eggs). Dancing to polka music is also part of the festivities – which often continue into the Tuesday. One of the polkas is entitled ‘everyone is Polish’ on Dyngus day.
The Roman Catholic Church describes Easter Monday as Bright Monday, the beginning of Pascha week. The 66<sup>th canon of the Council of Trullo instructs the faithful as to how it should be celebrated.
‘From the holy day of the Resurrection of Christ our God until New Sunday (i.e. Thomas Sunday) for a whole week the faithful in the holy churches should continually be repeating psalms, hymns and spiritual songs, rejoicing and celebrating Christ, and attending to the reading of the Divine Scriptures and delighting in the Holy Mysteries. For in this way shall we be exalted with Christ; raised up together with Him. For this reason on the aforesaid days that by no means there be any horse races or any other public spectacle’
What happened on Easter Monday? Just imagine you are Mary or Peter or any of the other disciples? How would you feel? You wouldn’t just go back to work – thinking ‘wow, that was some weekend!’ You would be stunned, overjoyed, confused and asking ‘did that really happen? Is this a dream?’ But it is real. The unbelievable Good News. Because of the Cross-, because of the Empty Tomb, Monday is different. Everything is changed.
Some people celebrate Easter merely as a religious or secular holiday. Come Monday its all over. For Christians Monday is the first day of the rest of our renewed, restored and resurrected lives. We get to serve Christ this Bright week. And next Sunday we get to celebrate the cross and resurrection of Jesus all over again – because now the first day of every week has become the Lord’s Day!
Happy Dyngus Day…
This article was first published on Christian Today