Category Archives: Holy Week

Day 21: Easter Monday in the COVID-19 quarantine

Czech and Slovak Easter Monday traditions

By Emma Palova

Lowell, MI – Celebrate Easter responsibly with a six foot long whip.

Those were the guidelines for Easter Monday from the Czech officials. Social distancing restrictions have also impacted some beloved Easter customs in Czech Republic known as the whipping of the women called “schmigrust” on Easter Monday.”

“How?” you asked.

“The whips just got longer to satisfy the six-foot social distancing requirement.“

On the night before Easter Monday, the men braided the whips from willow branches. The whip consists of eight, twelve or even 24 withies (willow rods.) They headed out early on Monday morning either individually or as a team. Even before social distancing, the leader of the team carried the biggest whip with the most ribbons. The team members had their personal whips and rattles. The noisy procession went from house to house seeking out the loveliest females, who had the prettiest ribbons. This custom is known as “pomlazka.”

Easter Monday whipping before the COVID-19 quarantine.

According to some accounts, (including my own) the purpose of whipping is for males to exhibit their attraction to females; unvisited females can even feel offended. I wrote about this Easter Monday whipping tradition in my upcoming book the “Greenwich Meridian Memoir.” Watch for excerpts coming up during the COVID-19 quarantine.

The lashing would take place at the doorstep to the famous Easter rhyme:

“Hody, hody, doprovody, give me a colored egg, if you don’t have a colored egg, give me at least a white one, the hen will lay another one.”

Depending on the household, the lady of the house, tied a ribbon to the whip, handed out eggs and poured shots of the famous plum brandy known as sliwowitz.

Festive Easter deviled eggs-casino style

The whipping custom dates back to the pagan times. It was meant to chase away bad spirits, sickness and bring health and youth to everyone for the rest of the year. In our Moravian region, we were told that it symbolized the whipping of Christ.

If the women of the household were popular and the Easter team arrived late, there would be no ribbons or shots left for them.

On the other hand, you could see drunken teams in the afternoon out on the streets.

We have always adhered to this “schmigrust” custom wherever we lived in the world, except for this year due to the Coronavirus quarantine. We still have the personal braided whips from Czech and the giant rattle.

As a renaissance tradition, I made deviled eggs or eggs casino style from the dyed Easter eggs.

You just scoop out the yolks into a bowl, mix it with butter and mustard, you can add chopped up ham.

Below is a video of the Czech prime minister Andrej Babis lashing his wife.

Thank you health care workers.

Stay tuned for day by day coverag of the COVID-19 quarantine.

Tomorrow: Hastings woman infected with Coronavirus struggles to get better.

Copyright (c) 2020. Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

Day 20: Easter SUNDAY in the COVID-19 quarantine

Happy Easter

“Hope is like the sun, which, as we journey toward it, it casts the shadow of our burdens behind us.” – Samuel Smiles

By Emma Palova

Lowell, MI- Every Sunday is a little Easter and this Easter Sunday wishes kept pouring in from far and near.

We spent Easter alone with Ludek, but not completely. For the fourth Sunday in a row, we watched the televised mass from the empty Saint Andrew’s Cathedral in Grand Rapids. The beautiful mass celebrating the risen Christ lost none of its pomp. The altar was decorated with bold white Easter lilies, mums and orchids. And Alleluia echoed through the empty cathedral.

Easter Sunday rosary walk at the Franciscans

While the sun was still out, I went for my second walk of the season to the Franciscan Sisters of the Eucharist around noon. During the entire 1.8 mile walk on gravel Downes Road, I saw one Amazon Prime van only, but no human beings. However, the birds could not be discouraged or fined for chirping their Easter Sunday songs.

At the St. Mary’s Plaza, I sat on the concrete bench to make note of my observations in my blue walking diary with this title, “Write your Story.”

Then, the phone got the best of me as the Easter wishes kept coming in. Walking by the center, I still noticed the yellow forsythias .

“Happy Easter,” our son Jake wished me. “I made the whips for the Easter Monday whipping. We couldn’t find any willows.”

“Did you color eggs for Easter?” I asked.

Oh, yes, the coloring of Easter eggs is just as big of a deal as braiding of the whips from the willow branches.

“What are you cooking?” I asked.

On a normal Easter Sunday, we would have a leg of lamb, red sauerkraut and dumplings and mom’s famous cake roll. We would fill the dining room by the sunroom with laughter and Easter joy.

“I am grilling ribs tonight,” Jake said.

And yes, mom announced their Easter meal on FaceTime in Big Rapids. My brother Vas was present.

“We had schnitzel from chicken tenderloin,” she said. “I grabbed that at Aldi’s.”

Vas suggested that Ludek should be working in our gardens during the quarantine.

Somewhere in between the above mentioned calls, daughter Doc Em called from Morzine in France.

“Mom, I am in the mountains, but the kids couldn’t come with me because of the lockdown,” she said. “I am fine because I am a doctor, we can go anywhere.”

Doc Em said she’s getting tired of the uncertainty.

“France could be on a lockdown until the end of May and the European Union could seal off the borders until September,” she said.

Speaking about having a different Easter, friend Sheryl from Iowa asked me about our Governor.

“What is going on with your governor? Can’t buy seeds or flags and can’t go to neighbor’s house?” Sheryl asked.

“We can do takeouts, auto service, buy food and medication, but that’s about it,” I responded.

Thank you medical workers, truckers and grocery workers for all your hard work.

Stay tuned for day by day coverage of the Coronavirus shutdown in Michigan including a special report about Easter Monday traditions in Czech & Slovak republics with excerpts.

Copyright (c) 2020. EMMA Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

Day 19: Easter Vigil in the COVID-19 quarantine

“Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; begin it well and serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Easter alone, Whites Bridge rediscovered

By Emma Palova

Lowell, MI -Due to the Coronavirus quarantine, we will not have our Easter family gathering with my parents Ella & Vaclav, and our son Jake. I spent the sunny day in my well-lit kitchen working on Easter preparations, even though it will be just Ludek and I.

Whites Bridge replica

I colored eggs in five different dyes with an attempt to draw a bunny on a few of them. The bunny showed up only on the green egg. I marinated lamb chops in herbes de Provence, garlic and red Cabernet from a box. And finally I made my famous red beet elixir to strengthen our immunity and to boost the spirit.

Ludek had no bread, so we drove to the Otisco Bakery to get a loaf of sourdough. In Slavic countries, there is a blessing of the traditional Easter foods , prepared in baskets onEaster Vigil held on Saturday night.

Fresh baked sourdough from the Otisco Bakery

Since we were in Otisco Township, home to the famous Whites Bridge, we took the gravel road to check it out. It was well worth the bumpy drive. There it was standing in its new beauty – the perfect replica of the 1869 Whites Bridge across the Flat River.

An arsonist, who has never been caught, burnt it down on July 7, 2013.

Late in the afternoon, I watched fishermen fishing from kayaks on Murray Lake. I feel blessed living in the country and having somewhere to go without traveling.

I pray for reprieve for people living in big cities during the COVID-19 shutdown. May there be relief for all of us soon.

Stay tuned for day by day coverage of the shutdown.

Copyright (c) 2020. EMMA Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

DAY 18: Good Friday in the COVID-19 qarantine

Easter Triduum

By Emma Palova

“Hope is definitely not the same thing as optimism. It is not the conviction that something will turn out well, but the certainty that something makes sense, regardless of how it turns out.”

                                                                                -Vaclav Havel

Lowell, MI – In early March before the official outbreak of the coronavirus in Michigan, we had a discussion with Ludek about the kissing of the cross on Good Friday. We we were wondering how are we going to handle that, since COVID-19 was already in the U.S.

During the catholic liturgies, there is a lot to come into contact whether it’s during a Paschal service or a regular mass. What seems to be like ages ago, we decided we will not go to Good Friday services protect our health .

Well, now we know that we’re not going, because all masses have been cancelled due to the stay-at-home order in Michigan. We will wath the service on WMXI Fox https://www.fox17online.com/ at 3 p.m. today.

From the Easter Triduum, the Good Friday liturgy is my favorite one because of the reading of “The Passion of our Lord, Jesus Christ, according to John.

The passion reading has inspired Mel Gibson’s 2004 film “The Passion of the Christ” and countless other works of art. Rightfully so, following is an excerpt from the Passion:

EXCERPT: The Passion of the Christ

The Passion of our Lord, Jesus Christ, according to John.

Narrator: Jesus went out with his disciples across the Kidron valley to where there was a garden, into which he and his disciples entered. Judas his betrayer also knew the place, because Jesus had often met there with his disciples. So Judas got a band of soldiers and guards from the chief priests and the Pharisees and went there with lanterns, torches, and weapons. Jesus, knowing everything that was going to happen to him, went out and said to them,

Christ: “Whom are you looking for?”

Narrator: They answered him,

Crowd: ” Jesus, the Nazorean.”

The above passage is very close to how you write a screenplay.

The reading of the Passion from the empty St. Andrew’s Cathedral in Grand Rapids gave a very powerful message of suffering of the Christ.

Earlier in the day I worked on the intro to my upcoming book “Greenwich Meridian Memoir.”

Introduction to the Greenwich Meridian Memoir

Here is what I have so far:

I am writing this introduction during the unprecedented time of the coronavirus shutdown, as we celebrate the Easter Triduum in front of televised services in empty churches across the nation without audiences.

Greenwich Meridian Memoir cover designed by Jeanne Boss.

 In Michigan, we are on our 18th day of the COVID-19 quarantine that has been extended through April 30, 2020. Coronavirus is now the leading cause of death in the U.S. It has caused 1,970 deaths across the country per day. As of early Friday, the U.S. had more than 465,750 coronavirus cases, according to data from John Hopkins University. More than 1.4 million cases have been reported globally.

More than half a billion people around the globe are under a stay-at-home order to slow the spread of the deadly virus. This includes my homeland, the Czech Republic. The coronavirus does not discriminate or recognize borders between the states, the countries or the continents. Some are calling it an apocalypse.

Our immigration story from former socialist Czechoslovakia to the U.S. has come full circle; from one history milestone to another one.

The milestone that offset our journey across three continents was the reformist movement known as the Prague Spring 1968 under the leadership of Alexander Dubcek.

The epic story of love and desire for freedom spans 52 years on the date of publishing of this memoir. The major characters, Ella and Vaclav Konecny, are my parents, to whom I have dedicated this memoir. Mom Ella was a happy pharmacist in former Czechoslovakia, while Dad Vaclav was an unhappy mathematician in the old country.

Dad’s quest for his career fulfillment has been a constant source of inspiration for me in good and in bad times.

Stay tuned for day by day coverage of the COVID-19 quarantine in Michigan.

Copyright (c) 2020. Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.




 

Day 17: COVID-19 quarantine extended until April 30

Stay-at-home order tightens restrictions on stores, no exceptions for golf courses, construction and landscaping

By Emma Palova

Food and medicine will be the only commodities for box stores left to sell, according to the extended stay-at-home order by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. Only four customers per 1,000 square feet are allowed with social distancing markings. Only one person from the household should be running the errands.

“We have to double down to save lives, “ Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said.

All private and public gatherings are prohibited, although recreational activities are permitted within the social distancing limitations.

As of today, Michigan has had 1,076 positive Coronavirus cases and 117 deaths.

Michigan is expected to reach peak in the Coronavirus cases this weak, as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the National Guard turned the Suburban Collection showplace into a field hospital in Detroit. The USDA will provide snack benefits for kids who were taking reduced cost lunches at school when it was session. This aid translates into $193 per child per month.

Whitmer said the state is now fighting two crisis: health and economic.

“We are in control of our fate,” Whitmer said. “The numbers represent people’s lives. If we all take this crisis seriously, we will come out of it robustly.

“This has been a hard month. This virus is holding a mirror to our society and its inequities.”

Whitmer referred to the fact that people of color have been hit the hardest with 40 percent of Afro-American deaths.

“We will come out of this having learned something, as we recover from COVID-19,” she said. “We will be working on long term solutions. It is time to intensify our efforts.”

According to Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, it is necessary to double down to slow the spread of the disease, while building up the hospital capacity. However more medical professions are needed mainly respiratory therapists and registered nurses.

“This disease is incredibly deadly,” Whitmer said. “Any exceptions would make it porous. Landscaping and golf courses are not critical infrastructure.”

The Easter Triduum starts today with Holy Thursday.

Stay tuned for day by day coverage of the Coronavirus crisis.

Copyright (c) 2020. Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.