Bizzarre National Habits: Czech’s Whipping Women at Easter

The Czech Republic has a rather unusual tradition on Easter Monday. Boys get willow branches, braid them together into whips and decorate them with ribbons to whip girls with for luck and fertility.

During communism in the Czech Republic, many religious connotations were suppressed, and so Easter started to be seen as an occasion to have some fun time.

On Easter Monday men use to whip the girls’ bottom with special branches, called “pomlázka”. Pomlazka is a kind of a whip composed of osier twigs braided together.

Men can travel around the city in groups and go to visit some relatives, friends, and they can whip all the women they want.

This thing is called ‘Easter birching’. It’s supposed to be a gentle whip but sometimes it happens that the touch is not so light as expected.

Anyway, the girls have to bear the whipping and they can throw buckets of water at them (if frozen it’s better) and this way the morning becomes very funny and hilarious.

At first sight, it seems like a sexual joke between men and women, but it’s not. The symbolic meaning is to drive away from the evil ghosts and to bring strength and good health to all the women who are whipped.

Before the whipping, men have to sing a special Easter carol, and after the whipping, they receive a colored ribbon to decorate the willow branches. The more ribbons you collect, the more popular you are.

The spanking prevents the women from “drying up” during the rest of the year – that’s why they say “thank you” after the spanking has been administered. It is an “obligation” for the men to whip the women – yes, they are responsible for their reproductive health for the rest of the year.

Women the day before that,  prepare the hand-decorated Easter eggs, called Kraslice. The Eggs are the more characteristic symbol of Easter, cause it recalls the resurrection and the fertility. Women use to give the best one they have to their favorite guys.

Is that an equal exchange?  Equal maybe not, but very funny, indeed.

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