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.
Willow Stick “pomlazka” – Czech Easter Traditions
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.
Traditional Czech Easter Eggs
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:
Czech Easter Eggs Decoration Craft
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.
Anja and I met a long time ago while working for a local advertising agency. Anja has always been very task oriented, perfection is her main thing, much like the Swiss watch. She has also always been into art. Whether she is focusing on photography, sketching, painting, making jewellery, or sewing she does it all and with Swiss perfection!
I no longer work with Anja, but thanks to social media channels, I do see her work occasionally. In the past year, Anja has been posting photos of her unique drawings that always catch my attention. She also recently had an exhibition featuring her illustrations, that I regretfully missed.
Little did I know one day she would announce that she published her own colouring book that includes all of her animal drawings! I got so excited for her, and am very proud of the fact that I know a local artist who is publishing.
Anja’s adult colouring book is called Familiar Friends. In her blog, she explains that all of the illustrations are portraits of people she knows. Her style was inspired by folk art from all over the world including a Swiss decorative painting style called Bauernmalerei.
A Gift of Relaxation
The popularity of adult colouring books is a great example of us acknowledging that our lives are very hectic and full of many micro-moments we need to seize. There is a need to slow down and explore different avenues of relaxation. Let’s face it, we all need it. I knit to relax as well as once in awhile colour with my daughter. It is a precious moment that I have with her one on one, but I have to admit, I don’t do it enough.
I have asked Anja for a copy of her colouring book as I think that this is a very good way for me to relax and spend quality time with my 8-year-old daughter. We can enjoy the colouring motion and the inspiration we get from choosing colours while we talk about the experience or enjoy the silence.
Where to Buy
Today is December 11, a couple weeks before Christmas. It is the time of giving and receiving. This book is a unique gift idea made by a local artist. Make sure to visit McNally Robinson to have a peak at Familiar Friends by Anja Studer.Better yet, purchase it online here.
Anja, it is an honour to know you. Grant and I wish you all the best and hope to see more of your art success in the future.
The air is a bit crisper in the morning, the leaves have started to fall and there is a hint of frost on your car’s windshield in the morning… Surely this can mean only one thing… “Winter is coming” my friends, winter is coming and with it, so are the boys of winter. You might know them as the Winnipeg Jets! Ladies and Gentlemen welcome to the 2016 Heritage Classic!
Few people know, but the seed for this game was planted a few years ago when on an opening night of the 2011-2012 season, the NHL celebrated the return of the Jets by hosting opening day festivities at the Forks. Unbeknownst to those around them, the 2011 – 2012 Director of Operations for the NHL Keith “whatshisname” was sitting at a table with members of some local ad agencies and a plus one who happened to be yours truly.
The Historic Event Idea
Basking in the glory of the occasion I was more than happy to engage “Keith” in celebrating the historic event. During this exchange, discussion of a potential Outdoor game came up. Keith asked the question “do you have the facilities to pull off an outdoor game?” Acting like I own the place, I replied without hesitation, “What kind of capacity do you require?”. Keith then replied “40, 000”.
Without blinking, I began to tell the story of our new facility Investors Group Field which was expected to be a state of the art facility and that with a few modifications would be able to easily accommodate the league’s requirements and the seed for this event was born. The people around me were shocked, wondering “Who is this guy?! How can he speak on behalf of TrueNorth, the city, and the province?!”.
Truthfully, I am nothing more than a fan (with maybe one or two ties in the spirit of the 6 degrees of Kevin Bacon) who likely had no influence on the event(though I did send out 2 or 3 emails the next day), but it is a story isn’t it? A story that goes way beyond the NHL or the return of the franchise, it speaks to the hearts and minds of the city, it is a celebration.
A Brief History
The Winnipeg Jets were born many years ago, existing first as a junior hockey team in the WCHL, then as a professional team in the WHA and then finally in 1979 they moved to the big show, the NHL.
Many stories have been written about the Jets of yesteryear, tales of Hull, Nilsson, Hawerchuk and Selanne have been seared into consciousness to the point where they have grown into legend.But that was the past, we live in the present… there is as Teemu Selanne himself said, “a new Sheriff in town”.
Patrick Laine is the toast of the town, a Hat Trick in only his second home game, a come from behind win over our fierce rivals from Toronto!But this team goes far beyond the “flashy” new Finn’s charisma and indisputably potent shot.
Young Up and Coming Stars
This team is about all the young up and coming stars. Mark Scheifele who since his draft day in June of 2011 has yet to say the wrong thing. Scheifele works hard and clearly, makes sure to get his 7 and ¾ hours of sleep each and every night.
His attitude, effort and sheer joy for the game must be contagious. This young man and dare I say future captain absolutely exemplifies everything this team and this city is about.
But Mr Scheifele is not alone in his quest to take this team to the promised land. There is another, a slightly grizzled veteran on this team. A man who leads by example and puts his desire to win on display each time he steps on the ice. He is a game breaker with dynamic speed and skill. This player can lift fans from their seats and the spirits of his teammates with a dash down the wing.
So while Mr Scheiffele may be the captain of tomorrow, “Old man” Wheeler is our fearless leader today. Others before him may have had the passion and work ethic, but it is Blake Wheeler’s added dimension that makes him the perfect general for this exciting team cutting its teeth in the Central Division.
Now back to the inspiration for this post. The 2016 Heritage Classic is being hosted in Winnipeg at the Investors Group Field. To me, this event is massive on so many levels. First, it is an homage to the greats of teams past. Not only for the Jets but the “other guys” as well.
Apparently, this “other team”, the Oilers won a few cups back in their day with some guy called Wayne Gretzky…I don’t know, maybe its bitterness, but I will never forget Mark Lamb whose 3 goals and 5 assists put a swift end to what felt like our team of destiny back in the opening round of the 1990 Stanley Cup playoffs.
This event is about tradition, new meets old. Developing continuity of the two franchises and alumni into one entity. The Winnipeg Jets are rich in tradition, the fan base is passionate and patient. This was our team, this is our team and will forever be our team.
Lastly, a congratulations and thank you to Mark Chipman, David Thompson, Jim Ludlow and absolutely everyone who made this possible. It’s been 5 years, and I am proud to say that the city is behind you every step of the way! GO JETS GO!
It has been awhile since my last blog post and I will be honest. It has been a struggle to come up with the right topic to speak about. I have lots of topics I would like to tackle. I have been busy working on some projects for clients, I have been traveling and I have been expanding my knowledge base. But nothing seems quite right. In previous posts, I have focused on business-oriented topics. This time, I want to offer something more personal… something real.
The Return Home
So here it goes. My wife and I recently returned to Winnipeg after a 15 day “Holiday” to the Czech Republic. I put the word “Holiday” in quotations because at times it felt like anything but a holiday. Sometimes, you need a vacation from your vacation. The Czech Republic is a bit of a second home to our family, my wife is from there originally, my children have been immersed in Czech culture from an early age (we forced them to adopt Czech “stuffies” from birth), and our oldest 2 children have been overseas multiple times. But this was our first trip for our youngest Lukas.
Lukas is an active 2-year-old and as Don Cherry might say, “it doesn’t take a rocket surgeon to figure out that putting an active 2 year old on a plane for 9.5 hours straight is anyone’s recipe for a good time”. Don’t get me wrong the experience was great… once we got there. We enjoyed traveling around Prague as well as visiting other lesser known spots through the majestic Czech countryside. Personally, I made sure to try as many local craft beers as possible while squeezing in at least one stop at a local coffee shop every day we were there.
Our kids enjoyed spending time with their Grandparent’s while Misha and I managed to enjoy one afternoon child-free; something we do not get to do very often. Having said that, I am a creature of habit and a prairie guy by nature, so as hard as it might be for some people to understand, the majestic landscape of rolling hills and sweet pastries paired with coffee were not enough to keep me from figuratively hugging the employees at Tim Horton’s upon our arrival on this side of the Atlantic. I may not have physically hugged anyone, but Misha says my eyes said it all.
Plugging into the routine
So now we are back. Even though we did manage to get some work done on the road; a couple of small jobs, as well as a full website migration (I had time to kill while waiting for my Father in law to abandon his TV). It is not the same as plugging yourself into a project and really going hard. And that is something I have to say that I missed.
So here we are, the month of August is looking busy and I am eager to start. This is what I wanted right? But alas I find myself lacking focus. My ability to concentrate is shot, my mind is still somewhere on a plane. I find myself more drawn to catching up on the TV series I’ve been missing. How does one simply plug back into work? How can I stop loathing my screen and get the creative juices flowing again?
As I mentioned earlier, I am a creature of habit. I enjoy my routine. I do my best to follow the same routine every week. My wife and I enjoy a pretty flexible work schedule and for the most part, we are able to schedule our work around our lives. On top of Dalilu, we each have jobs. Misha is a media planner for Fusion Communications and I work with my brother running a foster home for at-risk youth. Fusion allows Misha to work from home 3 days a week, and my job is mostly on weekends and overnights.
During the week, Misha works every morning, I spend time with the kids, take them to the playground, the pool, run errands, whatever we can do to break up the day and keep them away from their screens.
On the go I usually will catch up on email, follow up with clients and sometimes just shoot the breeze with friends and acquaintances we bump into on our travels. Monday afternoons are for planning the next 2 days and Monday evening is my chance to blow off some steam at my buddy’s place (Misha affectionately refers to this as Church). Tuesday’s are usually client meetings and new business while Wednesday is reserved for preparing artwork or other design elements we will need for the weekend web development session.
The Work Week
For me, plugging into the routine really means that my work week has started. In my case, mine starts when most people are wrapping up. Thursday, Friday, and Saturday I log between 40 and 50 of work at my brothers and this gives me the perfect time to “plugin”.
For the next 3 days, I like to visualize what I am going to work on before I execute. I like to think about how I am going to create the look of a specific page, or in some cases what kind of custom work I am going to need to do to get the “right effect”. Simply put I like to mentally walk through everything I need to do before I do it.
Once I start, time flies and before I know it, midnight has arrived and it is time to stop. Personally, I find the morning comes quickly. So If I don’t stop, I can often find myself worse for wear the next day. This process usually repeats itself on both Friday and Saturday, which is good in a lot of ways because I find I am able to the quiet time I need to focus. I find comfort in it, hopefully, with any luck, things will be humming again in no time!
Update: I originally wrote this post back at the end of July. Things did get busy and I wasn’t able to finish the post until September 1st!