In many places around the world, Spring has been hiding its golden locks behind a grey shawl. The weather has been unusually cool to cold and even snow has happened in many places. The Czech Republic has had a snowy and cold “spring”. Easter was grey, overcast and below zero Celsius. Not what I am used to.
The Czech Easter tradition is amazingly different from the U.S. tradition. As most readers will know, Easter in the U.S. is celebrated on Sunday with colouring eggs, egg hunts, Easter baskets with chocolate and family time. For some it is spiritual, and others it is simply a time for family to gather.
In the Czech Republic, Easter activities take place on Easter Monday. Yes the Czechs colour eggs, but most don’t have egg hunts. Instead on Easter Sunday, boys spend the day braiding thin branches to make long switches. They then tie colourful ribbons on the end. This sticks are used on Monday.
Easter Monday boys go from house to house of people they know, and some they don’t, and whip girls on the bottom. That’s right, they whip women, girls, teens, and grandmas on the bottom. In return, the whipped female gives the boy an egg, chocolate or real. The whipping is supposed to bring life, youth and vitality to the receiver.
But, boys only have until noon to do this. If a boy arrives at a girls door after noon, the girl has every right to dump water on him or spray him with lots of perfume. I couldn’t get anyone to explain that to me. It remains a mystery.
I explained the Easter traditions on in U.S. and the U.K. to my adult class and they all said that they would rather have our Easter. I think they are sick of being switched on the bottom.
My Easter Monday was spent in my apartment waiting for the clock to pass noon so that my boyfriend and I could go skiing without fear of my being swatted on the behind. Clearly, most Czech males only do this to people they know, but I didn’t want to take my chances.
In that time we had our doorbell rang. A minor panic ensued. There was a small Czech child outside with a mini-whip and his parents standing behind hoping that someone would answer so their son could get a chocolate egg. We didn’t have any chocolate in the house, so we remained quite and counted the seconds for them to go away. It was awkward and silly and we should have just opened the door and looked confused and said “czeski ne”.
Who knows what next years Easter will bring.