The Village People and the Weapon of Mass Destruction: Easter in Czechland 2013

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easter stick

A Czech lady getting what she deserves this Easter

Following last year’s rather unsuccessful attempt to introduce Czech Easter traditions to England (remember my beranek baking disaster?), I decided to spend Easter in Bohemia – and who better to celebrate with than The Village People?

So, as the lovely Village People have been somewhat absent from the blog of late, I thought I’d regale you all with the highlight of my long weekend with them: the Big Easter Stick Ritual.

One of the first quaint Easter customers which foreigners are a little taken aback by – especially if they happen to be women – is this whole business of being beaten on the behind with a big stick first thing on Easter morning. No, this is not an April Fools Day joke, I’m afraid, but a bone fide Czech Cultural Difference (or CCD for short).

This morning I was chased around by Czechman’s dad who delighted in whacking me on the behind with the big Easter stick which apparently ‘shouldn’t hurt really because of the ribbons tied to the end’. Yeah, right. I always squeal my head off when being chased around – God only knows why as it’s not as if I don’t know what’s coming – but I become so distressed it becomes almost impossible to locate the painted egg I’m supposed to give to my torturer to make the pain – sorry, ‘fun’- stop.

I’ve heard a rumour that women are allowed to throw cold water over their menfolk as part of this bizarre business, but it’s something I’ve never dared to try.

Who was responsible for the creation of the Czechmanovi’s Easter weapons of mass destruction this year? That’s right, Czechman’s mum.

At this point I’m tempted to say feminism never happened in this country. However, as Czechman rightly points out, in our household, feminism means that he has to do the man’s work (i.e anything with tools) and the women’s work too (anything involving cleaning). At least I like to cook, even if I’m not so keen on the clearing up.

Anyway, Girl In Czechland would like to wish you all a very Happy Easter and a fertile 2013! Roll on Spring – I can’t be the only one who’s sick of the snow…

25 Comments

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25 Responses to The Village People and the Weapon of Mass Destruction: Easter in Czechland 2013

  1. Rob Ward

    You get to throw water over them only when they do it after midday, which is reasonable in that they’re often pretty drunk by then. My female students and friends generally hate this custom. The Germans tend to write columns about it too getting exorcised on how backward their neighbours are, which is not wholly fair, I’d say.

    On the feminism thing, I had a group of 19 year olds one morning. On being asked to do a kind of speed dating role play or something, one of the girls wrote herself into the role of a feminist, who hates men and sex. Very liberated. Though it’s true that that was a very particular group in a very particular class: a giggly, self-consciously silly group of girls at the back who sit around tapping their manicured nails on their tablets and reading Fifty Shades.

  2. Jan

    This custom is pretty pro-woman, not a feminist’s nightmare at all. It’s not about beating a woman (to punish her), it’s to give her good health.
    (do the men get any? Nope, just cold water.)

    A similar connection between young tree-branches and health has been present in human culture since antiquity, even today they’re used in Finnish saunas. Bathing people are beating themselves with birch branches, voluntarily. (you can see this proudly advertised in sauna adverts, as an “alternative massage therapy”)

    • Tomas

      Yea, that is true. That beating is only symbolic. I’m always wondering why other nation think that we beat our woman to blood. Pretty retardish thinking 🙂

      • girlinczechland

        Hi Tomas,

        Sorry for my belated response. I think the problem is that the Czech Easter tradition is sometimes presented in a sensationalist fashion by trashy newspapers abroad (or at least I’ve seen it talked about in that way in some British tabloids). Implying that Czech men get their whips out and chase their womenfolk around before giving them a couple of lashes every Easter sells more papers sadly 🙁

        GIC

  3. Jan

    ….

    let go of your “feminism” try to be more women that a man and you will enjoy being beaten.
    btw girls like this becasue more visitors means she is more popular 😉

    I really dont get which low self esteemed female invented feminism but shw was clearly mad and mentally ill 😉

  4. aknerats

    I guess you’ve forgotten about the main point of this charade. Women are spanked to make them healthy the whole upcoming year. Does it sound that bad now?

  5. I’ve always admired those braided, beribboned willow switches! I had thought the switching happened on Palm Sunday or thru-out Holy Week.

  6. Lada

    Jako dite jsem mel Velikonoce rad a myslim ze i vetsina holek je mela rada. Krome povinneho kolecka koledy u znamych a rodiny a spoluzacek to byl “souboj”, holky vyhlizely koledniky a s predstiranym jekotem pred nima utikaly, vetsinou s pohodlnym naskokem. Po dvanacty se vyzbrojily v lepsim pripade vodou, v horsim cimkoliv jinym tekutym, jeden rok jsem smrdel snad 4 dny ruskou nesmyvatelnou vonavkou jak ucitelka matematiky z Leningradu:-))Ale verim, ze Velikonoce ve meste a Velikonoce na vesnici je neco jinyho, ja mel stesti a bydlel na vesnici.

    Podobna zabava se konala samozrejme pul roku na to, kdy skupinky holek i kluku stejnym zpusobem “drazdila” Certa o Mikulasi, nastesti vetsinou uz byl Cert natolik opilej, ze malokdy nekoho chytil; pokud ano, pak jsme si odnesli pekny jelita na prdeli vsichni, bez rozdilu pohlavi:-)

    Snad nebude vadit, ze tentokrat pisu cesky.

  7. Andrea

    In some regions, Northern Moravia, if I’m not mistaken, men throw women in rivers or pour water on them instead of the stick. My best friend’s dad used to throw her in the bathtub (he’s from Ostravsko, but they lived in a small apartment with no river very close by). Wow, I just read what I’ve just written and, man, does it sound awful 🙂

  8. Sarka

    In Northern Moravia men really throw women to rivers, pour them with water or cheap perfumes (cheap – because they need abundance of it, and beacuse it smells most awfully) or throw them to bathtubs. I was fortunately only poured with that perfumes.

    They use sticks – pomlázkas – or, in our family, branch of juniper bush decorated with ribbons. Even though they really don’t hit you hard with it, you really can feel it (it hurts).

    My mother told me, when she was at elementary and high school up there (Nothern Moravia), girls used to bring their sticks to school on Thuesday and took revenge on the boys :-). That was back in 60s and 70s, they were emancipated already back then.

  9. Miles

    *Looks at the picture and gasps in terror*
    Guys, just so you know, those sticks usually are NOT this huge. Traditionally they’re made from just eight fresh willow twigs.
    And, if they are really fresh, you can plant the stick later. There’s a chance it will take root and grow up: http://img3.rajce.idnes.cz/d3/0/914/914352_a0186183415e3b5f98089d9d74b3cea2/images/P1000352.JPG

  10. Lucie

    Growing up in Czech you actually don’t mind this tradition….thanks to the small villages it is surviving until nowadays and not forgotten because of feminism, it would be a cultural loss. It’s happening just once a year, it’s fun and usually the beating is not too harsh and the chasing is sort of a flirting game:) better be chased and beaten with a beautifully handmade willow wip than being beaten at home regularly. The water tradition is for the boys who are late- bucket of water can be thrown to anybody who cames with koleda after 12.

  11. Yoss

    I want to give up this tradition this year and my GF very angry accused me: “Don’t you want me healthy next year?”
    I had to do it. So that about feminism 🙂

  12. Since I discovered your blog I have enjoyed reading it and I have nominated you for a Very Inspiring Blogger award.
    It helps my good memories about my days in CZ

  13. Nosfi

    The only place of easter feminism in czech republic is around Náchod where girls can go beat boys with thorny branch of juniper tree. They get candy and eggs of course. You can come here next year nad have your revenge. 🙂

    (sorry for my english)

    • jnk

      Honestly,
      I see it sort of becoming more like halloween these days and you see packs of kids with the whips moving form house to house, boys and girls alike kinda.

  14. Great photo there and remember hearing of this tradition when we were over in Prague for Hubby’s 40th! I have two mini sticks too! Thankfully Hubby has forgotten what it was all about!
    Tee hee!

  15. Caycee

    I personally don’t participate in this Easter tradition, I simply will not let anyone whip me for any reason. If you enjoy the tradition, by all means go for it, enjoy! If you are a woman who absolutely hates it, don’t allow it, simple as that. No one should be made to believe that MUST participate in anything. Of course there are always consequences, for me on Easter Monday, it just means not being in the village, and not visiting friends… easily done! I am also flabbergasted at how Czechs seem to fall victim to these social pressures. Drinking for example, especially shots, at birthdays, newborn births, etc, etc is rarely met with successful opposition, people let themselves be pressured into doing it, or claim “they were made to do it”. Stand up for yourselves, good grief!

  16. Marie Brno

    I came back after some time to read through the rest of your blog – it’s really great!
    I must say I always hated this Czech Easter tradition (but also being a Christian it doesn’t make sense to me to participate in a pagan thing). I absolutely agree with Caycee, only it took several years to be able to decide for myself and run away from the town for Easter Monday. My mom enjoyed this tradition strangely enough and would actually make my sisters and me stay at home and open the doors to any visitor when we were kids.
    I’m lucky to have a husband who has always hated it as well. And… I’m with you on the feminist division of work – I only cook because I enjoy it and my husband takes care of the men’s AND women’s work (actually for the time being, I am the money maker and he finishes his studies, so it is kind of logical).

  17. Martin

    Dear Girlinczechland,
    there is one thing i’m missing in your articles. A single positive word. Everything is if not directly wrong, then weird, strange and so on. The only positive thing you mention was luxury hotel, the only thing you enjoy. I don’t want to make things even worse, so i’m not going to say, that luxury requires money in wallet, not a brain in the skull.
    I read many of your articles and i wonder how you can stay there and do not escape back to old good England, where everything is perfect. At least that is what some english guy told me. I did even trust him, until i came to England myself. Even i can’t imagine how popular my blog will be, if i write about things as they are in England. Lets give it a try…
    No wonder, that english people including Girlinczechland love to buy houses abroad. To keep english house in some condition you’ll need tons of bleach to remove all fungi from there. And of course it will be moist all the time as there are no cellars. Cold in winter, hot in summer. In winter you try to spend as short time as possible on ground floor, the floor is stone cold and you get flu easy like that. So you run upstairs, but don’t run up the stairs, they may accidentally fall apart. If you are lucky and there is no toilet on first floor, because there is no pipeline without leaks, then you have a great control who is going to the toilet all the night, not even the best ninja would make it without noise. Which wouldn’t be ninjas fault, english wooden staircase is absolutely necessary in every ghost castle, nothing else will provide so horrible sounds.
    Another chapter will be english food. We can discuss what was behind the rise of British Empire, but i have one potential explanation. It was food. I would also fight abroad, where i can eat local food, rather than stay in England and be on english food. I wonder why they don’t label it as Biohazard or something like that. Look around how healthy all the fish&chips lovers look, they are fat and their skin looks like if they have some skin infection. They will spray you chips with vinegar, well it can’t really make it worse. Mint on your meat, steak and kidney pie, they will fry tomatoes, mushrooms, sausages in the same lard and call it breakfast. Don’t get me wrong, when i said sausages, i meant english sausages, they have nothing to do with sausages you know. Stay in England is good for your cooking skills, you will have to cook yourself in order to save you health.
    Another great tradition is Friday night. Never leave anything valuable near the street on Friday, it will be stolen, crashed or at least somebody throws up on it. Other thing you can enjoy on Friday night, apart from fighting drunks are ugly and fat girls wearing mini skirts so you can enjoy the looks of they elephant like fat legs. But they will act as beauty queens, perhaps they don’t have a mirror at home. Even they do fight when they get drunk and for sure they will fight you, if you somehow show them, that they are not beautiful.
    Everybody knows, that it was England, where they started manufacturing, but not many people know, they didn’t change anything since then. As soon as you enter some of their small factories, you’ll have good explanation, why their economy is struggling. Then if you will have to work in some big company, which is more up to date, you’ll come across another astonishing thing. Health and Safety. If somebody cuts his finger, which case we would solve in Czechland by telling him he is a “mamlas” and he should learn, how to use it, in english factory they will call a council of many and very well paid H&S officers and very soon they will get new safety knives, so safe, so you can’t even use them to cut. It will slow down all the production, so next step will be to hire more workers to do the same job as before. Anytime they will surprise you, so you’ll feel like Alice in Wonderland. We can stack 70 boxes on a pallet and the order is 700 boxes. Get me a calculator somebody, we need to find out, how many pallets we need. So he said, team leader, not bad hah ? A board in sandwich factory, everyone was messing up with my board, changing numbers on board and confusing me. In order to make things easier i started to use roman numerals(and later on even russian alphabet so nobody knew what is on the board). It was fine, just until the moment i wrote as a joke the code of the butter in roman numerals as well. One employee of foreign origin just copied that code into his paperwork and few hours later came the Head of QC, quality check department with this piece of paper in his hand and asking me, what is that. And when he saw my board he initiated investigation, if this is not a racist case, not bad hah ?
    But there is not factory in England, where they wouldn’t play music. Wrong. They don’t play music, they play pop, which is very different thing. Boys who sing like somebody who has got his bollocks in the vice and squeezing hard. More simple that song is, more popular and more often they will play it, up to 5 times per hour. How do we dare to don’t know british pop ? From my point of view, doesn’t matter if we talk about french or british pop, they are both big countries. But try to ask someone in England, what does he/she know about french pop culture. The first reaction will be to tell you off, because you mention France. Just in this case we can switch the country to avoid this problematic english-french relation. Next big country is lets say Russia, or maybe China, Japan, whatever. Do you think they will know anything about their pop culture ? No way, but still they wonder, how comes you don’t know about theirs.
    But all children would know a lot about all pop stars, very often that is all knowledge they posses, unfortunately.This isn’t so much their fault, as they don’t learn that much at school. Well everybody has to pass, so if somebody doesn’t know anything and might fail, they need to make all the tests even easier next year. Specially if the child, who fails is of foreign origin, they might face a serious racist case, so there is no other way. Thanks to this, you might by amused on daily basis by information like: Sharks belongs to the same group of animals as other insects, the river Amazon is in Africa, ants have brains like humans, if you go to Asia, you go to visit Pyramids and many others, the list might be long.

    Also Girlinczechland, would you like anything like that, i guess no. Even if all that is based on true story i don’t think this would be the best topic to talk about. It wouldn’t be so difficult to pick up other things i mean positive ones and talk about them, it is always up to you, what you choose.

    • girlinczechland

      Hello Martin,

      I’m sorry that you don’t like my blog and think that my portrayal of Czech life is nothing but negative. Fortunately, 99.9% of my other readers don’t agree. I’m very grateful for the fact that comments like yours are rare and that the vast majority of people who take the time to read the blog understand that I feel a great deal of affection for all things Czech, even if I have the odd minor grumble from time to time.

      GIC

    • Hi girl,

      I completely agree with Martin, it’s always about your point of view and if you don’t understand it, don’t judge it. I’ve been to many places including UK and not just for a weekend but for living and there’ll always be things you like / dislike. You can easily make your life more miserable by feeling bad but also wonderful only by yourself.

      It’s your choice, if you don’t like the place, go somewehere else.

      Regards, Mullen.

  18. Czecharev

    Hi Girlinczechland,

    I completely agree with you on this one. I have always hated Easter “beating”. I have an older brother and both him and my father thought that Easter gave them a “licence to beat”. They even said that that was the only day in the year when they could legally beat me and my mom. And to top it all, they didn’t use tree branches but wooden spoons! Horrible. Not only did it REALLY hurt, but it was humiliating and awkward. I’m so glad that I can avoid this so called tradition now that I live in the UK.

  19. Pingback: Easter traditions | Middle Europe

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