24 April 2014

Easter Beating

I prefer the peaceful Easter bunny
We spent Easter in pretty much the most traditional Czech way possible: at a chalupa (cottage) in the woods.

The weather was lovely and aside from a medical issue with L's grandfather, it was a magical weekend.

Additionally, I experienced for the second time the mysterious Czech Easter custom of pomlazky.

As I understand it, the tradition goes like this: Czech menfolk gather willow branches and braid them into whips. Meanwhile, the womenfolk spend ages making beautifully-decorated eggs.

When the time is right, the menfolk chase the womenfolk around whilst reciting a poem and whacking the womenfolk with the willow whips. Somehow, this transfers the energy of spring into the womenfolk, who gratefully give the menfolk the beautifully-decorated eggs.

Sometimes, the womenfolk return the favour and transfer spring energy into the menfolk by dosing them with cold water, but unfortunately, this was not part of our family's celebrations.

I can kind of see what is in this tradition for Czech men, but I'm mystified as to how the women are benefited.

L. and my students tried to help me see the niceness of this tradition, but I'm afraid I just can't get past the women-beating-ness of it all.

Smalls, for his part, was also confused about the tradition.

'Hit your mama with it and she'll give you an egg,' the family urged.

'But just during Easter,' I hastily added.

In the end, he decided the best course of action was to be an equal-opportunities wielder of pomlaska, and transferred the energy of spring to both his táta and I. 

Which was sweet....I think.

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