Happy Easter! Veselé Velikonoce! Easter celebrations in the Czech Republic include lamb-shaped cakes, braided whips made from willow twigs, painted eggs, whipping girls and slivovice.
Lamb-shaped Cakes (Beránek)
Cake mix is added to a lamb-shaped mould and baked into a Beránek cake like this:
Braided Whips (Pomlázka)
Young, live willow twigs are thought to bring health and youth to anyone who is whipped with them. An Easter pomlázka (from pomladit or ‘make younger’) is a braided whip made from willow twigs. The finished whip is often garnished with coloured cloth and/or ribbons as demonstrated by these two Czech policemen.
Painted Eggs (kraslice)
Girls decorate eggs ready to give them to boys on Easter Monday. The eggs are real, but with the inside removed using small holes in the top and bottom. Ornate designs are created using wax, straw, watercolours and onion peels.
Before noon on Easter Monday, the men begin whipping the women with their Pomlázka while reciting this poem:
|Hody, hody doprovody, dejte vejce malovaný. Nedáte-li malovaný, dejte aspoň bílý, slepička vám snese jiný.||Give me a coloured egg, if you won´t give me a coloured egg, give me a white one and get your hen to lay another.|
And as a reward for this abuse, the men are rewarded with a coloured egg plus a glass of slivovice. The result is a lot of drunken men wandering the streets with whips. If they attempt to use them in the afternoon, they are doused with a bucket of cold water.
Czech Prime Minister demonstrates how to whip his wife using a Pomlázka
In this video from 2020, ex Czech Prime Minister, Andrej Babiš demonstrated how to whip his wife using a Pomlázka. The remaining 13 minutes were all about asking citizens to celebrate Easter responsibly during the pandemic.
Slivovice is a plum brandy, made mostly from damson plums.