Since this series began in January 2018 there have been over 1100 Posts from Your Archives where bloggers have taken the opportunity to share posts to a new audience… mine.
The topics have ranged from travel, childhood, recipes, history, family and the most recent series was #PotLuck where I shared a random selection of different topics. This series is along the same lines… but is a ‘Lucky Dip’
In this series I will be sharing posts from the first six months of 2021 – This series is now closed but there will be another in 2022.
This is the second post by author and retired GP Eva Hnizdo and shares her thoughts on Czech and Slovak Easter traditions that are not about Easter eggs or bunnies.
Why I never liked Czech and Slovak Easter and it won’t change. Still true in 2021
Of course, we all know that the Christians cleverly took over and adapted pagan holidays and changed them.
I don’t know anybody in Czech republic , and not many people in Slovakia who celebrate Easter in church. Easter has very little to do with Jesus over there.
Statistically, Czech republic is the most secular country in the world. I like it. But I do not like those old pagan customs that appear every Easter.
Easter Monday means hordes of young boys and men walking around with birches made of willow, decorated by ribbons, and looking for female victims to spank them.
Hard to believe? Google it!
The spanking is not supposed to hurt, but it often does. The girl or woman is supposed to be grateful for the spanking – allegedly being spanked in the spring by fresh willow branches brings vigour and fertility. So as a reward, the boys get either decorated Easter eggs or chocolate ones.
In Moravia– the Eastern part of what is now Czech Republic and in Slovakia, the men get plum brandy or other alcoholic drink. After visiting several households, those men are often drunk which can make the spanking too enthusiastic and painful.
One of my friends from Brno told me she often ended up with welts.“Why did you let them do it?” I asked “It is a custom, they would get offended”.
In Slovakia, instead of spanking, women get thrown buckets of cold water on them, in exchange for eggs and alcohol.
Once, visiting Slovak relatives for Easter, I was rather surprised to look out of the window and see young men, dressed in suits, carrying aluminium buckets full of water.A friend told me that the women had several change of clothes ready.
Easter weather in that part of the world can bring frost and snow.
Call me a spoilsport, but I think those habits are barbaric. I never liked it, even when I was still living in Prague.
I remember before Easter ,all the men were joking about Easter Monday, how we will all get a proper spanking.
I recently spoke about it with a good Czech friend of mine. She sees it as a nice innocent folk tradition, in my eyes, it is a demeaning ridiculous custom that should have stopped years ago. But when I said this, my friend replied:
“I cannot believe you say this, that is so ridiculous, you are like those stupid politically correct Americans! It is only once a year, and it is fun. They spank me, I pretend to run away and squeal, it is a folk tradition.”
I do not allow it. I will not get splashed by water or whipped with willow branches so that I” do not shrivel”. I am rather grateful for that, although I found out after talking to several women of various ages that some enjoy that tradition, claiming it is fun.
The Easter eggs are beautiful, I admit that. The rest is not.
There might be some young women who enjoy the attention- the more young men want to spank you, the more popular you are.
But nope, it is not for me, never .
Last year, I read an article in Czech newspaper saying the EU is abolishing those Easter custom. There were articles from psychologists, saying it makes children think abuse is acceptable, and various EU regulations coming into place. I thought ” Great” till I realised the date. It was 1st April. I was most likely the only gullible person that fell for it.
It would be nice, though!
My family being Jewish, they celebrated Easter differently. No, we never celebrated Passover, or any other religious holiday, Jewish or Christian.
My parents spread around chocolate eggs round the apartment or garden, and let me look for them. It started with my mother shouting
“Wow, I think I saw a bunny running and he dropped something!”
So we looked if the Easter Bunny dropped something. He always dropped chocolate eggs or little chocolate rabbits and chicks. I did it with my children,too, even when we moved to England.
I think this might be a German custom.
Well, call me unpatriotic, I prefer that.
© Eva Hnizdo 2021
My thanks to Eva for allowing me to share from her archives and I know she would love your feedback..
About Eva Hnizdo
I am a Jewish Czech, born in Prague in 1953.
Whenever my family thought about emigration and decided against it, they made a mistake. Many of my relatives died in the concentration camps. My parents, after surviving the Holocaust, spent their lives under an oppressive communist regime.
I studied medicine at Charles University in Prague and became a doctor. I was a refugee and obtained political asylum in the UK in 1986.
I’m a retired general practitioner. I worked in the same surgery in Watford for 23 years, patients knew me as “ Doctor Heller” because nobody could pronounce my surname.
During almost 40 years of working as a doctor, I had the privilege to see into my patients’ lives, their problems, and their solutions to those problems. I feel it is not a coincidence that many writers are medical doctors. They have many stories to tell. I am now retired and spend my time writing.
Thanks for dropping in today and I know that Eva would love your feedback.. thanks Sally.