Sunday, March 31, 2013

Happy Easter from my home to all of yours

Happy Easter, everyone!

I have to tell you about the strangest, yet funniest, Easter tradition that we have! ...
The "pomlázka" is a traditional whip braided out of pussywillows (or other springtime branches) that men and boys of all ages plait on Easter Sunday (or they buy them at almost any shop around this time of the year). The pomlázka can be any length and braided from three to twelve branches.  The origin of the pomlázka tradition (pomlázka meaning both the whip and the tradition itself) dates back to pagan times.  Its original purpose and symbolic meaning is to chase away illness and bad spirits and bring health and youth for the rest of the year to everyone who is whipped.  In the past, pomlázka was not only used by boys to whip girls (um, I should clarify...they whip them on the dirty thoughts!!!), but also by the farmer's wife to whip the livestock, as well as everyone in the household, including men and children. 
Boys would whip girls lightly on the legs and possibly douse them with water, which had a similar symbolic meaning.  An Easter carol, usually asking for an egg or two, would be recited by the boy while whipping.  The girl would then reward the boy with a painted egg or candy and tie a ribbon around his pomlázka.  As the boys progressed through the village, their bags filled up with eggs and their pomlázkas were adorned with more and more colorful ribbons.
Although it may have lost its symbolism and romance and is now performed mainly for fun, this tradition is still largely upheld, especially in villages and small towns.  Some boys and men seem to have forgotten that the whipping is supposed to be only symbolic and girls don't always like that.  The reward has also changed - money and shots of plum brandy (Slivovice) are often given instead of, or in addition to, painted eggs and candy.  As you can imagine, by early afternoon groups of happy men can be seen staggering along the roads!  All that aside, Easter still remains one of the most joyful and fun holidays on the Czech calendar.

The Color Red
Red and other bright colors symbolize health, joy, happiness and new life that comes with the spring.  So paint those Easter eggs red!

All in all, Easter is a time of high spirits and happy celebrations in small villages.  I wish you all a joyful day and a very Happy Easter! 

Veselé Velikonoce!