Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives 2021 -#Potluck – #Culture – Why I never liked Czech and Slovak Easter and it won’t change. Still true in 2021 by Eva Hnizdo


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 

my easter

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”.

Hmmm.

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.

Connect to Eva: Amazon UKAnd: Amazon US – Follow Eva: GoodreadsWebsite: Eva Hnizdo Writer – Facebook: Eva Hnizdo – Twitter: @EvaHnizdo

 

Thanks for dropping in today and I know that Eva would love your feedback.. thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives 2021 -#Potluck – #Family – I loved my mother, although I didn’t know it by Eva Hnizdo


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 first post by author and retired GP Eva Hnizdo and it is poignant look at a complex mother and daughter relationship.

I loved my mother, although I didn’t know it.

It is Mother’s Day in the USA. Not here, but my family never celebrated it anyway.

However, all those entries on FB made me think about my mum.

A Holocaust survivor, she was 18 when the war finished, and found out that her father and brother, as well as many other relatives have been killed.

She managed remarkably to jump 5 grades to graduate with her class at school, school she had to leave age 11 because she was Jewish. She met my father and married.

From now on, life was going to be perfect.

Not quite. The communists came to power, and my parent’s marriage was not happy. Being with my mother was not easy, she tended to say intentionally hurtful things, she was manipulative, and enjoyed making scenes.

I was her only child, and no doubt she loved me. But she was looking for a small version of herself in me and was continually frustrated that I seemed to be the exact opposite. I was equally frustrated that my mother wanted me to be so many things that I was not. We were both disappointed in each other. We had many arguments.

My parents’ marriage didn’t last. After their divorce, she studied medicine and became a dermatologist, quite an achievement.

Our relationship was stormy, although it got better with time. Sometimes we don’t notice love. She was often hurtful, but she was always trying to protect me from being hurt by other people. I remember how she worried about me and wanted to help me. I remember how she used to embarrass me by telling other people how brilliant, beautiful and accomplished I was. She often told me the exact opposite in private. I somehow didn’t notice the love, because of her poisonous words, but even those words were often meant to protect me.

I found signs of her love by clearing her flat in Prague after she died. She kept all my letters from when I was a child!

I also found this photo of my parents on their wedding day. 1947, before the communists came to power. Two years after the war.

She looks beautiful and happy.

I started to write my novel after she died. It is fiction, but it deals with a difficult mother-daughter relationship. Writing the book made me come to terms with my feelings. And now, I only feel love for that competent, brave, damaged yet wonderful person who was my mother, Hana. She is dead so I can’t tell her I love her. But I do.

© 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.

Connect to Eva: Amazon UKAnd: Amazon US – Follow Eva: GoodreadsWebsite: Eva Hnizdo Writer – Facebook: Eva Hnizdo – Twitter: @EvaHnizdo

 

Thanks for dropping in today and I know that  Eva would love your feedback.. thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Cafe and Bookstore Update – #Reviews – #History #JewishFiction Eva Hnizdo, #Fantasy Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene, #Poetry Balroop Singh


Welcome to the Friday edition of the Cafe and Bookstore with recent reviews for authors on the shelves

The first review is for Eva Hnizdo and her new novel, released on 28th September. The historical Jewish fiction Why Didn’t They Leave?

About the book

You can’t ask for asylum in another country just because your mother drives you nuts, so when 19-year-old Zuzana flees from communist Czechoslovakia to England in 1972, she says she just wants freedom. Her relationship with her mother, Magda – a Holocaust survivor who lost most of her family in the concentration camps – is toxic and Zuzana finds happiness in London with a loving husband and beautiful son. But when her mother dies, Zuzana is crushed by guilt and feels an overwhelming urge to discover more about her family’s tragic history. So, she embarks on a life-changing journey, discovers some incredible stories and tries to answer the question which haunts her: Why didn’t they leave?

One of the recent reviews for the book

Peter Fink 5.0 out of 5 stars Why didn’t they leave? or Why did they stay?  Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 5 October 2021

In the many books dealing with the dramatic canvas of twentieth-century European history, the Eva Hnizdo book: Why didn’t they leave? stands out.

By not following the format of other personal recollections of the horrors and inhumanity of the Holocaust, her perceptive writing focuses on a more universal question of how to capture the complexity of individual lives and how we become who we are by our decisions and actions. The book’s alternative title could have easily have been: Why did they stay?

What made this book stand out for me is how the writer seamlessly interweaves the enormity of the Holocaust and communism with the human desire of all the protagonists to be known and heard, in owning their unique story as a mother, daughter …. or being Jewish or Czech … The multi-layered narratives of Magda and her mother become an almost surgical step by step capturing of a shared burden of multigenerational trauma of encountering the values of another person formed in another time and of the ultimate redemption of allowing yourself to be  

Read the reviews and buy the book: Amazon UKAnd: Amazon US – Follow Eva: GoodreadsWebsite: Eva Hnizdo Writer – Facebook: Eva Hnizdo – Twitter: @EvaHnizdo

The next review is for Dead of Winter: Journey 9, Doors of Attunement by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

About the book

In this ninth installment Emlyn, Osabide, and Fotia (in Zasha’s body) traveled to a third world, so little known that it is only called the Other Realm. They hope to restore Zasha. Will Fotia willingly relinquish her new life in a young body? There the trio meet unpredictable, but vastly powerful beings known as the Listeners. One of them is a new enemy. Another might be friend or foe. Either way, he is dangerous.
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Arawn has grown stronger. An army of the dead gathers near the Lost Library. Hallgeir faces one of the biggest decisions of his life.
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Journey with our travelers. Adventure awaits.

One of the recent reviews for the book

D. W. Peach 5.0 out of 5 stars A ramble through portals into different realms.  Reviewed in the United States on September 30, 2021

Journey 9 begins with Emlyn, Osabide, and Focia stuck in another dimension in the lost library. They’re trying to return Zasha to her body as well as find their way back to the rest of the Deae Matras group. This novella-length journey expands on Emlyn’s ability to pass between realms, and they learn more about the dire condition of the veil that separates the dead from the living.

As always, Geneviene’s episode is full of luscious details about the world including stairways that seem to lead nowhere, runes that turn cold, and magical staffs that hold the key to power. Some of these story elements feel random, but they do enhance the mystery and adventure, and there’s a chance that they’ll tie together at some point.

There are lots of mysterious characters, some helpful, some malevolent, and a few who could go either way. Little by little stakes are rising and the Deae Matras are in the thick of it. I look forward to continuing the fantasy adventure.

A small selection of other books by Teagan

Read the reviews and buy the book: Amazon US – and : Amazon UK – Blog: Teagan’s BooksGoodreads:Goodreads Twitter: @teagangeneviene

The final review today is for Balroop Singh… and her poetry collection…Slivers: Chiseled Poetry

About the collection

When I stumbled upon haiku – a Japanese form of poetry, I scoffed it away, thinking it to be too short and easy to write. My hubris got a setback when I was challenged to write it! My earlier efforts show how I struggled with the syllables that could convey a meaningful message. Slowly I discovered this art form, which I revere now. I’ve taken some liberties with the rules though.

The poetry in this collection is not traditional haiku and tanka but inspired from them.This collection focuses on micro-poetry, inspired from haiku, senryu, tanka and acrostic poems. Brevity and discipline is the hallmark of these poems.

A recent review for the collection

Sep 10, 2021 Trish Butler rated it five stars

My favourite Balroop Singh collection so far!

I’ve read and enjoyed several of Singh’s volumes, but this one is my favourite. She has taken on the discipline of haiku and tanka and excelled.

Grouping these short poems into subjects was a great inspiration too and I particularly loved the images with some of them as I am a very visual person.

Singh’s poetry is calming and beautiful and this book is no exception. Take your time and experience the calm her words can have over you.

I’d love to hear them read aloud.  

Other books by Balroop Singh

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Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon US – and : Amazon UK – Follow Balroop : Goodreads – blog:Balroop Singh on WordPress – Twitter: @BalroopShado

 

Thanks for dropping by today and I hope you are leaving with some books.. thanks Sally.