Easter Monday (Velikonoční Pondělí) in the Czech Republic
by Susan Lynne White, guest contributor
The end of Easter in Prague, Czech Republic. (photo: Leonardo Sagnotti/Flickr, cc by-nc-nd 2.0)
In the Czech Republic, a tradition of spanking or whipping women is carried out on Easter Monday. On Easter Monday morning, it is customary for girls and women to stay at home while the boys and men, usually dressed in nicer clothing and sometimes even in kroj — traditional costume — go door to door of female relatives and/or friends, bringing greetings, singing Easter carols, demanding the right to spank the women with a special handmade whip called a pomlázka and/or splash them with cold water or perfume for good luck and fertility, and demanding “treats” (eggs, chocolate, liquor, or a peck on the cheek) as their reward.
The splashing of water is intended to oblievat — to “water” the females present. Water is the symbol of life and the pouring of water is a gesture meant to bestow year long health, beauty, and fertility. Some men spray perfume instead of water, or both. The splashing of water can range from a teaspoon dribbled on top of the head, to a bucket thrown over the head, to a full body dunking in a bathtub full of cold water.
Pomlázky, willow switches photgraphed at Brno’s Zelní in Easter 2006. (photo: Jesse Johnston/Flickr, cc by-nc-sa 2.0)
A pomlázka consists of eight, 12, or even 24 willow rods, usually measuring from half a meter to two meters in length, which are braided together and decorated with colored ribbons at the end. There used to be a tradition that women would add their own ribbons so the whip would say how many women the particular man has already visited, but it seems to have fizzled out. The spanking normally is not painful or intended to cause suffering. The purpose of the spanking for women to bestow health, beauty, and, most importantly, fertility for the spring and entire year.
Usually women are chased around (if they decide to make it interesting or to play along) or they just stand motionless and allow the male visitors to spank their butt. After being spanked or splashed, the women must give candy or money to a boy, and liquor or a small amount of money to a man as a sign of her thanks.
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