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About the Author

Radovana Jagrikova
Student (Trnava, Slovakia)

Young journalism graduate interested in what is going on around her and around the world, enjoying thinking about it, and ready to comment on it.

Post

Should women really look forward to Easter?

Published 02nd April 2010 - 22 comments - 6263 views -

A relax from work, stress and everyday life, a great opportunity for the whole family to meet and have a good time, warm sunny weather with awakening nature and flowers in blossom, great food and drinks, days of harmony, peace, happiness…

 

Yes. But for some people only partially.

 

And now a bit of Slovak (Central European) perspective into Easter…

 

 

What you might not know about Easter traditions around here

 

We have decorated eggs, chocolate bunnies, branches of golden rain or willow in vases… It is Easter Monday that makes our Easter “special”.

 

If you want to get a basic image of this day, check this.

 

And some more excerpts of texts on the internet I particularly like:

 

"Just imagine that you have spent the whole weekend shopping for food to be able to prepare all the necessary dishes for Easter. [] Every good housewife also bakes at least three sorts of cakes or pastry. When all tasks are done and finished on early Monday morning, women are usually simply too exhausted to resist the water violence effectively. They feel lucky if they manage to sneak out of the bed while the males of the house are still asleep because by male standards it is thought to be the greatest fun if they can attack the unwary victim with a bucketful of cold water in her bed. During the morning, the male relatives and friends ring the doorbell and repeat the ceremony of splash-and-whip again and again. As a woman you have to make sure that you have enough dry things to change into because you never know how many visits you can expect.

[] Easter in Slovakia is loved by men and hated by the women. Never in my life have I met a woman who would praise this tradition. If possible, some women even choose to leave their homes for Easter weekend, and spend it in peace with friends who also find traditional Slovak Easter a little too much to handle."

source

 

"And women are chased around [if they decide to make it interesting or to play along], or they just stand motionless and the male visitors would spank her butt. However, it should not hurt. Or at least not throughout the whole procedure."

source

 

"If you were one of the first houses the mob visited, you were lucky: the guys are still kind of sober, kind of polite and kind of mellow. You let them into the living room - or better - just a hallway, give them some refreshments, offer them more vodka and let them “spank” you. If they still have their egg baskets, you would also stuff couple of eggs in them and if you are lucky they leave afterwards."

source

 

[…] the men shall recite a special Easter saying which “explains why they came and what they want the woman to do”. Adult men usually avoid it and they just yell like animals, while young boys who are taught to “recite slash sing” it still do it, especially when spanking aunts and grandmothers.

source

 

Well, now you should have a more-or-less complex image.

 

 

My Easter memories

 

I have been woken up with a splash of cold water into my face a few times. As I used to live in a family with two male members (a father and an older brother, now living alone, then sharing a room with me), I could be sure to have such “nice surprise” in the morning. The safest way was to make sure I wake up sooner than that, which I managed a few times. And once, I woke up early in the morning, put on a raincoat and armed myself with an opened umbrella, and got again to bad. My idea was appreciated, but it did not save me from the morning “shower”.

 

Now, my father and brother have always been very nice and “Easter-sensible” and hiding from their tiny water pistols throughout the day was sometimes even fun.

 

Then, there is the case of “visitors”.

 

My classmates used to come. As it was an accepted and encouraged way of earning money for boys, they (usually in groups of 3 to 6) always circled the city and “visited” every girl not living too far. They come, I tried to make it quick and just stood in the hallway, they whipped me (with the traditional “whip” consisting of a few plaited willow branches) mechanically and threw some water and perfume on me while saying a traditional poem, afterwards, I gave them chocolate eggs and some money, sometimes my mum brought a cake or some juice, they thanked and hurried away (to earn more money and more eggs). Fortunately, my classmates were always too lazy or too in a hurry to do more than was compulsory, it was all about money for them.

 

My brother's classmates used to come. They were older, less lazy and more creative. Two times I ended up being carried on hands and put into our bathtub full of water (not too cold, they made sure). I always had to check beforehand that the selection of my clothes would not become transparent after a “bath”.

 

And the last category were accidental visitors, complete strangers who knew that once they are let in, they wouldn't be sent away without some reward. I had to “reward” such boys just once, and only because they came right when the door was open. Otherwise, my family didn't mind their ringing at the entrance door.

 

Luckily, later I agreed with my parents that we wouldn't answer any ringing at all; my brother stopped going “earning money” and his classmates did too. What remained was just symbolic whips and drops of water and even they vanished soon. So now, for a few years already, I contentedly spend Easter Monday either peacefully at home or even walking or hiking in woods. And I make my less lucky friends, still involuntarily beaten and “watered” and taken money from, really envious.

 

Would you like some water?

gorazdik.com

 

 

Water: how much, how cold?

 

From water pistols through buckets to bathtubs… The choice is up to them (males). Some obviously think that a girl soaking wet is beautiful. And that putting a girl to a bathtub slowly is for chickens, real men always throw a girl. And that she enjoys changing her clothes five times a morning. The temperature is yet another factor to experiment with. But, generally, there is little experimenting: they believe that “the colder, the better” (plus the more the girl screams, the more fun it is).

 

 

To beat or not to beat

 

From symbolic touches of a “whip” on the least sensitive parts of body to unceasing and overly enthusiastic whips all over the body. How could men pay attention to where and how hard they hit if they are so absorbed in having so much fun?!

 

 

and we give them money and food for it!

 

A girl has to make sure she has enough money, but also chocolate eggs (or other shapes), decorated eggs and other small gifts for all possible visitors. It's just unimaginable to run out of it and give the “whippers and waterers” (there are such words in Slovak language) nothing more than money! (Though some would forgive you if you increase the amount of financial reward.)

 

 

Not only stupid, but also dangerous

 

Welts, bruises, catching a cold, fractures due to slipping on wet floor or in the bathtub or escaping male invaders. But there were also rare cases of an injury due to buckets slipping out of men's hands together with its content or serious burns caused by boys not noticing they filled the bathtub with hot water instead of cold. And possibly others I don't know of.

 

Easter can make boys rich 

 

I like Easter: the decorations, preparing delicious food, spending time with my family and friends, watching the spring coming… But the idea that many women are “traditionally” treated against their will (oh, I admit, there are some flattered by all the attention… but also some lucky, not having to endure anything against their will) and that some boys transform the tradition into a way of earning easy money (and some men into a free chance to get drunk and get their hands on girls without being slapped) is just beyond my comprehension. I don't suggest forbidding all the traditions of this day: it might be nice to keep it among close friends, partners and family members on a mild, pleasant, painless and “reward-less” level; on a level allowing both sexes to enjoy it equally. And it could also be generally accepted that the day after Easter Monday is reserved for women wishing to “pay back” (in a similar nice way), which is a minor opinion now (and women simply can't “visit” all their “visitors” and “whip their money and gifts back”).

 

 

How can we hope for a gender equality if our traditions allow boys – those willing to take advantage of the possibilities – to be rewarded for treating girls as they please?


Category: Equality | Tags: slovakia, gender equality, whip, easter,


Comments

  • Radka Lankasova on 02nd April 2010:

    I am going to hide after my first caroller comes and makes sure I will live happily ever after another year smile.


  • Radovana Jagrikova on 04th April 2010:

    How about whipping you yourself and having a shower in the morning (so that you will be happy, healthy, beautiful, fertile etc.) and then not letting any man in? wink


  • Jan Marcinek on 04th April 2010:

    But on the leap year is it oposite. Women “pound at” man etc.


  • Radovana Jagrikova on 05th April 2010:

    Well, this is the first time I hear about such thing. So maybe you have it in Czech Republic, but we don’t in Slovakia. In Slovakia, it is something like this: “We, men, can do what we want with you, women, on Easter Monday. (Leap year or not.) And some feminists believe they can get their revenge on Tuesday…” But, of course, not all the men are the same: I know some who don’t practise our Easter Monday traditions, or make it only symbolic. Or even some who hide their girlfriends from their overly enthusiastic relatives. smile


  • Jan Marcinek on 05th April 2010:

    I think it had a long tradition in Czechoslovakia. But now… I’m not sure.


  • Daniel on 05th April 2010:

    Wow… Slovakian Easter sounds pretty hardcore :D Anyway.. this reminds me of the saturnalia celebrations in ancient rome that we read about in high school.


  • Ivaylo Vasilev on 06th April 2010:

    I believe we do this in Bulgaria on namedays - the water thing. Then on Christmas you do something similar to what you call “whip” - patting on the back with branches of cornel-tree for the purpose of health, i.e. to wish a healthy year.

    But shouldn’t you be answering the question you put at the end?:P After all you went through that whole ordeal… Does sound a little scary to me.


  • Ivaylo Vasilev on 06th April 2010:

    Btw, cool post!


  • Radovana Jagrikova on 08th April 2010:

    @Daniel: I have checked some texts about Saturnalia - it was definitely crazier than our Easter traditions. For example, some Romans used to sing naked publicly, and I have never seen anyone do it in Slovakia. Ever. :D

    @Ivaylo: I didn’t know you have such traditions in Bulgaria! Especially the namedays surprise me…
    I enjoy learning about other cultures, it is often so fascinating.


  • Ivaylo Vasilev on 08th April 2010:

    Yes, yes… It is fascinating. For eg., around Christmas boys run around in groups, they are called “sourvakari” and they do what you call whipping to everybody older than them, for health, and sing songs - or especially in villages, tho the tradition varies. So there’s more to it than just whipping, perhaps an old tradition to wish strength and hardiness.

    We have more in common than you know!:) Go go brothers and sisters on and close to the Balkans.


  • Ivaylo Vasilev on 08th April 2010:

    Here’s a summary: http://www.omda.bg/engl/ethnography/festivals.html raspberry


  • Tomas Moe Skjølsvold on 08th April 2010:

    Wow, Radka - from my perspectiv this is a very strange tradition. I guess I shouldn’t over-interpret (or be too judgemental) based on this post alone, but there definently seems to be a gender-issue lurking below what you describe. I mean, what does this tradition reveal about the status of women relative to that of men? That it is okay to hit/beat, steal from them and soak them in water? Cultural violence at it’s finest!

    Nice, informative post!


  • Muusa on 10th April 2010:

    I’m happy we don’t have anything like that here in Finland wink


  • Ivaylo Vasilev on 10th April 2010:

    Muusa… I think Radka might have framed the issue around the assumption that this tradition is sexist. I might write a blog post on biased framing of specific cultural contexts, and if I do - I’ll make sure to post you.


  • Radovana Jagrikova on 11th April 2010:

    I didn’t really try to picture the tradition as something sexist - only some men who practice it are sexist. There are others who are gallant and gentle. The only problem is that the tradition allows those who don’t think too highly of women to show it. And the young boys could also be very easily affected by it, if not led to seeing the tradition as something nice and symbolic, but as an opportunity to gain money and gifts or “to hear that conceited and nasty girl living next door scream!”. The problem might not be in the tradition itself, but in the way in which a bulk of society is willing to acccept it. If a vast majority of women dislikes the tradition, there might be something wrong about it…

    And, guys, thanks to all of you for your comments. smile


  • Miro.urcite.nevies.ktory on 12th April 2010:

    tongue laugh
    Radka. Nesir o slovenskych sviatkoch taketo hrozostrasne a nepravdive informacie!


  • Ivaylo Vasilev on 12th April 2010:

    Radka, thanks for your nice comment. Yes, you are possibly right. Empower yourself! raspberry *joking*


  • Muusa on 12th April 2010:

    Yes, and I think that is a good point Radka! Please read also my new post concerning women in the world…


  • Sylwia Presley on 25th July 2010:

    Great post, made me remember Polish Easter!;)


  • Radovana Jagrikova on 26th July 2010:

    @Sylwia: And do you miss it? wink


  • Hussam Hussein on 26th July 2010:

    Indeed Sylwia… I remember the Eastern spent in Krakow… interesting we had the same thought…


  • Sylwia Presley on 26th July 2010:

    well, I do miss the Easter celebrations, but I must admit that I do not miss the tradition of having to clean your house perfectly and spend a week in the kitchen. Modern Easter is easier form that point of view. I do however keep a lot of elements of traditional Easter for the sake of my son, so he knows his Polish heritage here, in the UK. I think it’s important element of knowing where you are coming from.


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