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On Being with Krista Tippett is a public radio project delving into the human side of news stories + issues. Curated + edited by senior editor Trent Gilliss.

We publish guest contributions. We edit long; we scrapbook. We do big ideas + deep meaning. We answer questions.

We've even won a couple of Webbys + a Peabody Award.

Easter Monday (Velikonoční Pondělí) in the Czech Republic

by Susan Lynne Whiteguest contributor

Easter is overThe 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.

PomlázkyPomlázky, 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.

We welcome your original reflections, essays, videos, or news items for possible publication on the Being Blog. Submit your entry through our First Person Outreach page.


It’s Only Rock ‘N’ Roll

Kate Moos, Managing Producer

Flyer for Tom Stoppard's Rock 'N' RollTom Stoppard’s new play “Rock-n-Roll” is getting mixed reviews here, but tickets are scarce, so I was thrilled when my friend Chris scored some for us. This is Stoppard’s chronicle of the intersection of pop culture and politics in then-Czechoslovakia’s Velvet Revolution.

Stoppard, I learned from the program notes, was born in the Czech town of Zlin, where I — highly coincidentally — have a close friend, Hannah, who grew up there. Hannah, much younger than Stoppard, is a devout Catholic, for theological and political reasons (the Catholic Church was a staunch form of dissidence in parts of the East bloc).

I remember Hannah telling me about the day her father called her into the kitchen for an earnest, whispered confession. He apologized to her for not joining the Communist Party because he knew it would limit her chances, and he pleaded with her to stop going to Mass. Her teachers, the secret police, the Party, knew of it, and if she persisted, she would be sent to work at the shoe factory, and never be allowed an education.

Stoppard’s play is a history of the world many people alive today have never heard of. The Plastic People of the Universe, one of the world’s most obscure rock and roll bands, and Western rock, carry the zeitgeist of revolution and resistance, and their consequent cynicism and despair, in the final years of the Soviet Union. It’s a story that matters.