A few days ago I stumbled upon a post about an Indian tradition of Raksha Bandman. No idea how it’s pronounced, but it’s a day when girls give guys bracelets. When a guy gets a bracelet he becomes the girl’s “brother” and has to buy her a gift. I don’t generally like to buy gifts for people, but I ended up wondering if we have anything similar here in the UK, or anywhere else in Europe… The closest I got was the occasional secret Santa. I think India wins this one.
If you’re not familiar with secret Santa is usually done in an office or a school or some setting like that. You are randomly given someone’s name and you have to buy them a gift. There is usually a price limit of £5 to ensure that you are only able to give disappointing things. It’s part of the tradition that the presents are always shit, but nobody expects anything decent. The tradition is an embodiment of disappointment. I once got a £1 pack of jaffa cakes. Hooray!!! I think that’s the only thing that’s even remotely close to the Raksha Bandman. But enough about that.
I told the author of the post about the bracelet thing that I’ll write something about a European tradition. I didn’t know what I was getting myself into because as it turned out, most of Europe is now heavily globalised and we don’t really have anything as special or unique, at least not in the UK. I narrowed my options down to 2. April Fools Day which is just a day when you are supposed to prank people and a tradition in Poland called “śmigus-dyngus“. This is something I was always obsessed about as a kid.
So the name śmigus-dyngus isn’t even in Polish, but it’s a day when you are allowed to soak people with water. The idea was that you can soak anyone you want until midday. I know it’s not as detailed as the description on Wikipedia, but that’s the way I always celebrated it.
It was a really good day. The entire neighbourhood would turn into a massive water fight. Water gun sales went through the roof as everyone stocked up on the latest pressure powered weaponry.
On the same day, you could see which kid’s parents loved them the most because some kids would turn up with massive water cannons while others would have to make do with a small water bottle. While both of these load-outs were perfectly adequate at soaking others, the real winners were the older kids who wouldn’t bother with water guns and just bring buckets. The problem with those is that you couldn’t carry them around. This was solved by teaming up with other older kids and getting a van. The van would pull up next to you. They would all jump out, spill what seemed like an ocean over you and disappear before you could start crying…
When I think about it now, I guess the whole thing was only possible because nobody had mobile phones or any other electronic things. If this happened now, just think of all the tears that would be shed over dripping iPhones…
Anyway… That’s the best I got. Anyone else?