Easter is a big deal in the Czech Republic. Just like in the U.S., Czechs paint eggs as a fun way to get into the springtime spirit, whether they celebrate the religious connotations of Easter or not…but have you HEARD about the Czech tradition of Easter flogging? No?! Better get busy reading, then!!
On Easter Monday last week, I was awakened by my Czech brother Adriano. He dragged me out of bed and downstairs into the kitchen for “a celebration,” which involved me in my pajamas getting comically whipped by my male host-relatives. The whipping, of course, is all in good fun, and is one of the oldest traditions in the Czech Republic. Every Easter Monday, boys and men across the country make pomlázkas, which are sticks made out of braided pussywillow branches and decorated with ribbons. I had heard about this Easter men-whipping-women business when I first arrived in Prague, but I was pretty confused as to what this actually looked like.
As it turns out, there are several steps:
- I bend over.
- I am (playfully?) whipped upon the bottom with pomlázkas by every male-bodied person in the room (think trick-or-treating on Halloween, with male relatives stopping by your house on Easter morning to whip the women) while the men sing a song that roughly translates to wishing the woman well in terms of her fertility and youth in the springtime.
- tl;dr: If you are a girl or woman and you are not whipped by a man with a pomlázka on Easter Monday, you will not be fertile or youthful for the upcoming year. In the words of Adriano, “You will be dry and sad.”
- Once the men finish singing songs after the whipping (my host mom and host grandma were also whipped—it doesn’t hurt!), each woman is expected to gift the men with eggs we have decorated. See some pictures of my decorated eggs below, including one of Adriano with his pomlázka.
This is just a quick informational post—finals are starting up here already and things are getting so busy!—but in case you’d like to read up about more Czech Easter traditions, you can do so here.
My favorite Easter tradition that remained the same here in Prague: a delicious, pastry-heavy breakfast!! 🙂