Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Pomlázka and Easter Whippings

Hi Everyone,
I managed to survive Easter OK--being beaten and all!! Some of you had so many questions about the Easter whippings that I went to find a video to share with you. Here, you can see exactly how it works! No one ever believes me (outside of the Czech Republic) that women are willing to submit to this "beating!" You can see how it goes in the video!!!

Please visit YouTube to see this video! I tried to embed the video, but could not fix it so the video would fit in my space here! Sorry about that!

The pomlázka is made from fresh willow branches which are cured a few weeks before Easter. The branches are then woven into a "whip," with the end decorated by a ribbon. Sometimes these "whips" are woven very intricately--they are really beautiful! Once the "whip" is made, then on Easter, groups of boys and men go from house to house, or even wait outside the church after the service, and then "beat" the women! The women, in turn are supposed to give the boys/men something in thanks--you can give small coins, a shot of some alcoholic drink, or a decorated egg/candy! Wow...you have to reward the guys for beating you! Unheard of!! Sometimes, it is also the custom to add a colorful ribbon to the end of each pomlázka that was used to beat you!

The idea behind the beating is from pagan times. The willow is seen as a symbol of new life and renewal, and it is an honor to receive a beating from them--for women, that is! The freshly cured branches are supposed to convey their new life, youth, strength and health to the women who are whipped with them on Easter! The theory also goes that this is supposed to enhance the reproductive health of the woman! Kind of like some people beat tomato plants to make them bear more tomatoes!

Anyway, this is a very interesting practice! The whips made in Moravia are a bit cruel, though, in that they are made from some tree/shrub that has thorns! I would not allow that! But this is the Moravian practice! I'm happy that I'm married to a Bohemian!!!!

Thankfully I'm not having to sit on a pillow or anything...I'm good for strength and health, etc. till next year!

If you would like to hear more stories about Czech Easter traditions, please be sure to visit Czechmatediary, written by Tanja (a Czech married to an American and living in the US)--"Traditional Czech Easter--the Way Lenka Remembers It", and "Czech/Slovak Easter--Run for your Life!" Tanja also shares about her life in the US--her life is the reverse of mine! Be sure to stop by and Czech out her blog!

You all have a great day!

God bless,
Sher :0)

Czech Off the Beaten Path website
Czech Off the Beaten Path T-shirts & More

Sher's Stuff

(c) 2009 by czechoffthebeatenpath


Martin in Bulgaria said...

Hi Sher, nice accoutn on what goes on there. Can you imagine this practice done in Western Europe or the Americas? This would be a barrister's joy!

We here get a traditional beating with a stick from children every New Tears' Eve, but without thorns and done whilst reciting a rhyme.

I hope the traditions stay put and arent' subjected to silliness, which spoils the whole innocence of these ocassions.

Glad yo got though it okay, until next year of course. Cushions all roudn then...:):)

Karen said...

I stopped by the Prague Hilton to see where the Obamas stayed when they were in Prague. They had these 10' long beautiful pomlazkas on display in their floral arrangements.

I wondered if the Obamas asked what they were...I can imagine their incomprehension if they found out because it is all so incomprehensible to the American mind!

Sher said...

Hi Martin,
Yes...most American women I talk to are horrified--like I used to be--by the idea of this!!! But in that video, you can see how the women actually present their backsides (fully clothed!) for the whipping! :0)

Wow...that Bulgarian tradition sounds really interesting!!! What's the story behind that? And it's great they don't use thorns...and thankfully the Bohemians don't use thorns, either...only the Moravians seem to think that is necessary! :0)

I agree with you...these traditions are precious and should remain pure. If only those who practice them would see it this way and try to preserve these precious rites and traditions!

Yes...I could use a pillow right now..but I did survive...and I'll do it again next year!!! :0)

Have a great day,
Sher :0)

Sher said...

Hi Karen,
Yes...most Americans are horrified b the very thought--as I used to be!!! It would be funny to see if Pres. Obama used a pomlazka on Mrs. Obama!!! :0)

I'm looking forward to hearing about your Easter trip!!!

Have a great day!!!
Sher :0)

Roz said...

Aaah, so that's how they justify the beatings! It sounds like a bit of fun in Bohemia but less so in Moravia.

It's good that the old traditions are still alive and well!