Monday, May 3, 2010

Adventure #029- A Czech Easter

Easter is a holiday that many cultures celebrate, and many of them have crazy pagan rituals incorporated.  In the Czech Republic, there are many such traditions and very few religious ones.  There are painted eggs, pomlazky, songs, beatings and of course, alcohol and chocolate.

They celebrate Easter on Monday.  On Easter morning, the tradition is that the guys go from house to house, looking for women.  They hit them with the pomlazka and sing them a song (a pomlazka is a braided stick made with willow.)  The women then give the guys painted eggs, a shot or chocolate.  This ritual is to 'make the girls wet' (as my students all told me) or rather, fertile.  The idea is that the 'Spring'/life from the willow will transfer to the women, making them fertile for the year to come.  The women thank the men for their kind thoughts by giving out painted eggs, etc.  But, here's the recent addition, if the guy comes by after 12pm, then the woman can dump cold water on him. In Slovakia, the guys can hit the girls at any time in the day and dump water on them.  Thankfully, this tradition is dying a bit in the big cities. One student told me that he would visit around 20 girls when he was younger!  That's a lot of alcohol and chocolate, bad combination!
So on Monday morning, I tried my best to keep Martin from seeing the time and getting out of bed.  But I had no luck.  He realized what I was trying to do and went for his pomlazka.  Chloe and I received the 'fertility' hits and listened to his song.  He was actually quite nice and didn't hit us too hard.  He was rewarded a bit later with eggs, chocolate and alcohol.

We had our lunch with a bunch of friends (some of whom had never done an Easter egg hunt or even celebrated Easter) and painted eggs after.  We were a bit confused about HOW we would be able to paint the eggs because they are all brown.  We soaked them in vinegar which turned them more of a cream color, and therefore easier to paint.  Before we painted them though, we emptied them out, so we had hollow eggs.  This was pretty funny because you put 2 holes in the egg and then blow the contents out. 

All in all, the Czech tradition was pretty fun.  I did try to run away from the pomlazka but in the end, I just accepted my fate.  The egg painting was much more fun though.  They dye the eggs brown by boiling them in water with onion skins.  The typical eggs are very pretty and finely decorated, but ours were painted more in the traditional American style, however we wanted, with lots of color.  Our meal was also quite interesting because we had traditional French and American Easter food, accompanied by lots of wine and finished with some Turkish alcohol and finally desert and coffee.  In the middle we had an egg hunt (which is typical in Germany and France too) for chocolates.  The part of the Czech tradition that we missed however, was a walk in the Nature.  But there's always next year right?

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