Warning! This article has been published 13 years ago. If you're into internet archeology, read it — but at your own risk. Honza doesn't have to necessarily agree with the content by now.
Today I have met many people, who couldn't believe me my stories about Czech and Slovak Easter customs, especially when I said we beat girls. But let's start from the beginning, there are more surviving pagan customs in our brother countries. The most popular one is definitely the colouring and decorating of eggs.
Decoration of eggs#
Professionals in the art of egg-decorating can turn eggs into genuine works of art, decorating them with straw, wax or bobbin lace. They usually use egg shells from which the raw yolk is blown through two opposite holes poked in the top and bottom. Normal people, especially families with children, prefer to decorate hard-boiled eggs, which are less fragile. The most common method of decorating is dying the eggs with onion skins, which makes their colour deep brown. During the communist days, it was also common to use fabric dye. Nowadays, children have a vast variety of colours and stickers to choose from.
Whipping of women and dousing them with water#
Another popular pagan tradition surviving to these days is the whipping of women and girls. The whip or „pomlázka“ is braided from three or more willow rods. Actually, in every region of our two states it's called in a different way – „švihačka“, „mrskačka“, „čagan“, „karabina“, „korbáč“, „tatar“, „žíla“… Pagan Slavs believed that whipping brought good luck, wealth and a rich harvest for the whole year. Its original purpose and symbolic meaning is to chase away illness and bad spirits and to bring health and youth for the rest of the year to everyone who is whipped with the young pussywillow twigs. B.oys would whip girls lightly on the legs and possibly douse them with water.
Easter carols and Christian traditions#
Traditional whipping should be accompanied by the singing of Easter carols. Unlike Christmas carols, they are not that well-known. Carolling is also accompanied by the sound of the clapper and rattle, an activity definitely more enjoyed by children than by their parents. According to the Christian tradition, all the bells are rung on Green Thursday and then they are silenced until White Saturday. Meanwhile, their toll is replaced by the clapper and rattle.
Eggs, candy, lamb cake and shots of home brew#
Girls and women present the carollers with eggs, the pagan symbol of life and fertility. But apart from eggs – real and chocolate ones, Easter is also associated with other foods, mainly with lamb. These days lamb is rarely eaten in the Czech Republic but it still appears on Easter tables – in the form of a cake – with eyes made of raisins or cloves and a green twig in its mouth… It's also very usual to present whipping men by shots of home brew.
Some videos and more information#
You can see some beautiful decorated eggs also just by Google Search.
So, girls at Otokylä, please…#
Be ready on Easter Monday. Girls, please prepare for us, Czech and Slovak guys, eastern eggs, candy, shots of home brew and ribbons. Thank you! And remember: It's for your health!