The custom of pouring water was an ancient spring rite of cleansing, purification, and fertility. It is alleged that the pagan Poles bickered with nature/Dyngus by means of pouring water and switching with willows to make themselves pure and worthy of the coming year. Others have suggested that the striking tradition is the transformation of the ritual "slap" of Christian confirmation. However, still others suggest that the Smigus tradition is actually simply a youthful recapitulation of a Good Friday Polish tradition, in which parents wake their children with switches from twigs, saying the words of a Lenten prayer "God's wounds".
Early, the Dyngus custom was clearly differentiated from Smigus: Dyngus was the exchange of gifts (usually eggs, often decorated – called pisanki), under the threat of water splashing if one party did not have any eggs ready, while Smigus referred to the striking.