In the UK Easter is a time of eating chocolate and egg hunts and a lovely roast lunch on Easter Sunday. For some the religious significance of rebirth and resurrection has been lost, but that’s the world we live in alas. The second biggest holiday after Christmas, Easter is now increasingly commercial with gifts, Easter trees and big spending holidays becoming more and more popular. In 2017 the Easter period commanded spending of some £18.4 billion, saving the economic figures for the first quarter of the year. But what does Easter mean to you? Family time? Time to relax over the long weekend? A getaway? Time to eat chocs and a big dinner and flop in front of the telly? Any of these are great, but is there more we should do?
Traditions across Europe and the UK
I thought it would be interesting to look at some age-old traditions of Easter around the UK and Europe. What do other countries do? Well, in common with us, many Eastern European countries decorate eggs for Easter. Some, like Slovenia, have a traditional Easter breakfast with eggs, ham and nut roll. In Bulgaria, Easter dinner consists of roast lamb, a lettuce and cucumber Easter salad, and an Easter sweet bread (kozunak).
Now for the slightly sadistic
In countries such as the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Poland there is a tradition of spanking or whipping on Easter Monday. During the morning, men spank women with a special handmade whip called a pomlázka or korbáč . In Moravia and Slovakia men also throw cold water on their women folk. The whip consists of around 10 to 20 willow rods and can be up to two metres long and of course decorated with coloured ribbons (well, it is Easter!) The spanking may be painful, but it’s not intended to cause the ladies to suffer.
The legend declares that women should be spanked/whipped with a whip to keep their health, beauty and fertility during the next year.
Rebirth I suppose? In Poland (Dyngus Day) Easter palms or pussy willows are used as the whip. Dyngus Day is actually celebrated in US Polish communities, notably in Buffalo, although I think it is kept to water and there is little whipping for fear of litigation!
Bit of a laugh (?)
Traditionally, the woman spanked gives a coloured egg as a gift to the man or an invitation to eat and drink at their house. In many regions women get revenge in the afternoon or the following day by pouring a bucket of cold water over any man who gets in their way. In Poland, where whipping has sort of fallen out of favour, the celebration is now an all-day water fight. Dyngus Day, or Wet Monday, is the name given to Easter Monday in Poland.
I must ask my sister-in-law about this next one … In Latvia, there is a spanking tradition on Palm Sunday (called Pūpol Svētdiena, Pussy Willow Sunday) morning. During this celebration children and women are awoken by being spanked with switches of pussy willow on their bare bottom (which is bared by the spanker). Definitely some safeguarding issues there …
But Why? The Belief
It is believed that the spanking releases positive energy from the trees to the person who is spanked. A variation of the tradition is to spank people with the pussy willows around the neighbourhood. In these cases, young men catch a girl or young woman and bend her over for spanking. Public spankings are mostly given on the clothed rear, rarely on the bare buttocks. All I can say to this if it catches on in the UK is, see you in court!
All I know is that some of my wife’s friends would take the whip and the man would be wearing it where the sun doesn’t shine. I am all for respecting tradition but it might be risky!
The Rest of the World
Easter is celebrated in Washington DC, US, with the President hosting an Easter Egg Roll on Easter Monday. This is a contest of coloured boiled eggs that children roll down the White House lawns using a wooden spoon.
In Bermuda, they fly colourful kites on Good Friday.
In Colombia, rather than chocolate eggs they are more likely to tuck into iguanas and turtles. Hmm … I’ll stick to my Lindt golden bunny thanks x
If you acknowledge Easter where you are, how will you be celebrating this weekend? We’d love to know.
Happy Easter to all our readers x