Easter in CR – eggs, slivovice and spanking
Today, Easter mainly celebrates the resurrection of Jesus Christ, but much earlier before coming of Christianity, people used to celebrate the upcoming spring and the awakening of nature. Much of the old customs survived until today, they were partly mixed with Christian traditions, but the most important is, that they are still practiced, especially in the country. So how exactly is traditional Czech Easter celebrated?
The most significant are painted eggs, the custom, which is not popular only in the Czech Republic and Slovakia, but also in the other countries, they are were popular as symbol of new life especially in Slavic Countries (beside Czech Republic it includes Poland, Ukraine and so on). The most popular color used for eggs always was red, symbolizing the energy of life. There are many techniques for decorating the eggs and they differ from each region, in the Czech Republic, pretty famous are those from Moravian Hana region. The eggs can be either boiled or emptied before being decorated, thus they can be exhibited somewhere as an Easter decoration (hang between windows, put in the small basket on the holiday table and so on) and even stored for the next year. If they are boiled, they are mostly used as a gift for Easter carolers.
There is one specific Easter custom, which often seems cruel for foreign visitors when they see it for the first time. In the Czech Republic, on Easter Monday morning boys and men can legally spank Czech girls and women and they are even rewarded for it by the beaten ones! Boys need to make special Easter stick, made of wicker (willow wattle), decorated with ribbons of different colors, such stick is then called “pomlazka” in Czech. According to etymology, “pomlazka” is something which makes the beaten one young, according to the tradition, it should brink them good health and they should stay young. That is why girls reward those who beat them. Mostly they give them painted eggs, but sometimes it also can be chocolate eggs or another sweets, and very often, when the Easter carolers are old enough, they give them some alcohol, the best is if it is home made one. Sometimes girls try to escape the guys, but mostly just not because they would not like to be beaten with “pomlazka”, but because they do not want the guys to get the reward that easily. This custom is, regardless how cruel or strange it may seem to you, still very popular in the Czech Republic (as well in Slovakia). Today, it is not even necessary to make an own “pomlazka” as they sell it almost around every corner before Easter. And this custom is not kept only in the country, but also in towns, Prague including, so on Monday morning, if you watch carefully, you can see carolers in the city.
But not only Easter carolers are gifted on Monday morning, also children are. There is a custom, that little Easter hare (velikonocni zajicek) comes early in the Morning and bring them something, mostly some sweets, sometimes also painted eggs or little toys. If the family has a garden, he mostly leaves the gift there, but if not, he can leave it even in the house. But this custom is not kept only in the Czech Republic, it is also know in other countries. So if you want to try some really typical Czech custom this Easter, you should consider “pomlazka”, but if you are man, not to forget to be gentle.