EASTER TRADITIONS FROM MY HOME TO YOURS
written by @juliarecipes
I have always been told, that my stories about Easter traditions from the Czech Republic, are the most joyful and interesting to hear. So I have decided to share all these joyful traditions with you as well. Specific interest is in this special tradition on Easter Monday, where men “symbolically” spank women with a special handmade whip called a pomlázka (in Czech).
And this is where I get the what? question and astonishing expression of misunderstanding. The spanking is only symbolic tradition (nobody gets hurt or injured) and it has lots of meanings and traditions behind it. I will explain later what this all means. But first I would like to start by saying what EASTER means to me and where this all is coming from.
EASTER IN CZECH REPUBLIC
For most people in the Czech Republic, Easter is a beginning of spring or new beginnings. But everybody knows, that it is also the most important Christian holiday and there are many customs associated with it. Many non Christians do follow these customs as well. Let me explain you some of them.
Ugly or Chimney Wednesday, reminds of Judas’ betrayal, also called bad deed day. Chimney Wednesday is called, because that day, soot was swept from the chimney. Although this day is a cleaning day (house work), we should not frown or be annoyed by the fact of cleaning the house. According to a folk superstition, if you frown on Ugly Wednesday, you will be annoyed every Wednesday for the rest of the year.
Green Thursday, which refers to Holy Thursday in English is a day, when we should eat healthy food, particularly leafy greens. In my family, we always prepare creamy spinach, with bread dumplings or potatoes and eggs (hard-boiled or sunny side up). Some people eat salads, green pea soups, cabbage soup. As a sweet treat, housewives bakes sweet buns called Jidase, in a shape of a rolled rope. It symbolizes the rope on which the treacherous Judas was hanged. The sweet dough is very similar to classic Hot Crossed buns.
At the evening of Green Thursday, Christians commemorate the Last Supper of the Lord, on which Jesus ordained Holy Communion. At the evening, the holy bells departs for Rome and all the churches remain silent until White Saturday.
Good Friday is a Christian holiday commemorating the crucifixion of Jesus and his death at Calvary. As a child, I remember we couldn’t eat meat on Good Friday. It was a meatless Friday for us and my mom used to prepare simple cream of wheat with honey or slice of bread with butter. Some people fast the whole day. We used to go to the church in the afternoon and it was a very long quiet mass for us. As children, we tried to keep us entertained by running in the hallways of the church, which always got us into the trouble. But it is still a great memory as we gathered as a family.
Usually people in the Czech Republic are going a lot into the nature, looking for the first flowers and greens to use for colouring Easter eggs for the following Monday. Folk superstitions says also, that on Good Friday the treasures in the rocks and the memorable Mount Blaník will open and you can carry as much of the gold and silver as you can. In the past, it was also believed that water from mountain springs turned into the wine.
Another tradition on Good Friday is, that every boy in the village equips himself with a wooden rattle (řehtačka). The boys then form a group and walk through the village, rattling their rattles vigorously, so the noise can be heard from far away. The meaning of this rattling is, to chase away Judas and to drive impure forces out of the houses and buildings.
WHITE SATURDAY & SUNDAY (Easter Saturday & Sunday)
Easter Saturday is a day of preparations for Easter Monday. Girls paint, colour and decorate eggs and boys prepare their pomlázkas! Those famous handmade whips made out of young branches of a tree, which will be used on Easter Monday.
In my family, decorating Easter eggs is one of the most joyful activities for Easter. We hard-boil eggs, previously covered with greens or flowers and wrapped in white gaze. Then we boil it for 10 minutes in water filled with onion peels (a lot of onion peals) or black tea to get darker brown colours on the eggs.
For Christians White (Easter) Saturday is also the Day of Resurrection of Jesus Christ. On White Saturday there is big silence in churches and no mass celebration. Christians mourn Jesus Christ lying in the grave. At night the bells return from Rome, where they departed for Green Thursday.
On Sunday, lots of Easter dishes are cooked and baked. These are some examples of Sunday Easter dishes, which are prepared in the Czech Republic:
- CREAMY RABBIT STEW WITH WHITE WINE & TOMATO SAUCE
- ROASTED DUCK WITH BREAD DUMPLINGS
- CZECH ROAST PORK WITH SAUERKRAUT & DUMPLINGS
- CZECH SPECIALTY – ROASTED BEEF WITH CREAM VEGETABLE SAUCE & DUMPLINGS (SVICKOVA)
Sweet treats can’t miss either. Housewife bakes sweet bread called mazanec, puff pastry rolls filled with whipped cream, choux pastries filled with buttercream and holy sweet lamb (bundt cake in a form of lamb). And whoever tasted this holy sweet lamb, that day found a lost path in the woods.
This year, I made a little exception and tried something new for Easter. These pastel coloured MINI EASTER TARTS WITH CHEESECAKE FILLING will be siting on my Easter table.
Easter Monday is the highlight of whole Easter celebration. On Easter Monday, men and boys wake up very early in the morning and visits their girl-friends and female relatives to whip or spank them symbolically with the pomlázka. This freshly made pomlázka (whip made out of young willow branches) is supposed to keep ladies fresh, beautiful and healthy. According to one interpretation, the pomlázka as presented as a symbol of the fertility. This fact is also proven, by the act, that women thanks to the men, with giving them coloured eggs, after symbolic spanking with the pomlázka.
These days girls and women still give coloured hard-boiled eggs as a thank you, but some just simple buy chocolate eggs or offer a shot of alcohol to warm the lads up. In some regions, ladies gives out colourful ribbons, as a way of thank you for not forgetting to visit them.
The pomlázka is undoubtedly one of the main symbols of Easter holidays. Traditions in certain regions (especially in Slovakia and South Moravia) may also include watering, the so-called smigrus. In some places lads water women, others ladies man.
I remember, that my cousins also sprayed us with perfume instead of using water and you can imagine how one house with few girls must have smelled after many friends (boys) passing by 🙂
Since I moved to Canada, we still keep all the traditions, including the Easter Monday. For kids, we added Canadian tradition for Easter Egg Hunt, which is so much fun, but sometimes challenging with the snow being here until late April.
So here it is my Easter traditions in my family, how do we celebrate Easter holidays and how we try to keep all this beautiful customs and traditions live in our family.
Now I would have love to hear your traditions for Easter. If you feel like sharing some stories or traditions with me, don’t hesitate and post it in the comments. I am so looking forward hearing from you.
I am wishing you the most beautiful Easter holiday, enjoy it with your family!