Happy Easter, everyone!
For many years, I have wanted to write a post about the Czech Easter traditions which are somewhat interesting and strange to Canadians. People are definitely surprised when I tell them that on Easter Monday, Czech men hit their women with willow sticks. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves, let’s start from the begging.
Czechs have two days of Easter Celebration
It is the Holy Sunday, a celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ and Easter Monday a celebration of the upcoming spring and awakening of nature.
Many of these traditions are still practised in the country, which is why I am writing about them today.
The beautifully decorated eggs, the liquor and the spanking!
Did I get your attention? Good, because we are just about to discover and learn about the traditions I am trying to bring to Canada along with other fellow Czech immigrants living nearby.
The whip that Czech men spank the women on Easter Monday is called a “pomlazka”. In translation, it means “make younger”. The tradition of spanking is carried out on Easter Monday morning, only! You won’t spot any women walking on the street that morning because if they are, they are for sure getting spanked. Women are all home, decorating Easter eggs and waiting for the men to come whip them with their willow sticks; freshly made out of the new green tree sticks. The whip consists of 8 or 12 or 24 willow rods, nicely braided together. The length is usually around half a meter, and they are decorated with ribbons on the end. The spanking is not intended to cause suffering.
A legend says that women should be spanked with a whip in order to keep their health, beauty and fertility for the whole next year.Once a woman has been spanked, she gives a coloured egg she has prepared, offers a drink or two, and puts a ribbon on the top of the whip as a thank you to the man. Are you shaking your head and saying, what a strange tradition? Yes, it is, but it is a unique tradition that we Czech people, talk about and laugh. The Czech men love it… The Czech women not so much, but we go with it and we all keep it as a tradition for the next generations.
The women can get revenge in the afternoon. They can and trust me they do, pour a bucket of cold water on any man they see!!! Isn’t that brilliant?! I don’t know what that brings to the men, and I certainly don’t know if it is also health and fertility for the next year. I have looked for this information for years, but it is nowhere to be found. However, it is what we do. In fact, where I came from, we sometimes added a bad smelling perfume to the water.
The Canadian boys and their Czech wives
Unfortunately, Eastern Monday is a work day here in Canada. However, my husband, who is a Winnipeg born Canadian, took over this Easter tradition of spanking his wife and now his daughter on Easter Monday morning.Very seriously, he has not missed an Easter morning since he learned about the tradition while we were dating. Interestingly enough, those Canadian boys who married Czech women, I know at least a few here in Winnipeg, they LOVE this tradition and have all mastered it. They even taught themselves the Czech rhyme that you say when you spank your loved one that morning.
Passing on the tradition and teaching our kids
This year, our youngest Lukas is three years old, which is just the right time for Grant to give him the lesson about the Czech heritage and to start getting to know the family even better. Our ten-year-old son David will go with the flow, and I think our daughter and I will be hiding and wearing jeans. As it turns out, denim works very well on Easter. The fabric is thicker and it does not hurt as much as when you wearing PJs. Believe me, I speak from many years of experience! Yes, that is how early the men wake up that morning, they get you right before you wake up!
I know I have been talking about just the one tradition lots, but let’s face it, it is the most bizarre, right?
Fond memories of egg decoration
Decorating Easter eggs has always been lots of fun. I have fond memories of my mom, my sister in law and I decorating Easter eggs with onion peels for colour and melted Crayola wax for painting. The smell of the wax coming from our basement laundry was awful but the art we were creating was just stunning. Here are some examples of the Czech traditional eggs:
The celebration of life and rejuvenation
Well folks, there you have it! Make sure this Easter that not only will you just collect the chocolate candy eggs a bunny pooped all around your house or yard (we do that for our kids, no judging here). But that you also remember why we are celebrating the Easter Holiday. It is mostly the CELEBRATION OF LIFE AND REJUVENATION.