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.”
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.
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.
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