April 13, 2009

Easter Monday Of My Childhood.

Easter Monday is what I remember most vividly from the Easter celebrations in my childhood. Growing up in the communist part of Europe, the celebration contained a somewhat more pagan tradition.

Easter Mondays were renowned for a very odd, but never the least a very amusing custom. All the girls in the families were either soaked completely with water, that was poured over their heads from buckets held by the boys, or they were being hit across the legs, in a symbolic way, with long thin twigs or switches made from willow or birch tree branches, decorated with colourful bows. The origin of these customs is not completely known, but it has been suggested to be most likely symbols of rejuvenation and rebirth and are carried out as a contributing factor to keep the girls healthy and young.
I recall, that the striking with the willow branches was more a Czech custom, while the "watering" of the girls was a Slovak tradition.

Well, we did not concern ourselves at that time much about the origins of these traditions. All I remember was that on Easter Monday, my mother was constantly drenched and she kept changing into dry clothes every hour. This somewhat crazy spectacle would start in the morning, when my father would symbolically pour a glass of water over my mother, while she was still asleep and did the same to me and my sister. Interestingly, he would also give us fragrances as gifts. Getting these presents was worth the somewhat rough awakening.;)

But, that was just the beginning. We would dress in our best clothes, and so would my parents. One by one, friends and relatives would stop by during the day and all the males would pour buckets of water over my poor mother. Some of them took her even into the shower and showered her down. Describing it here makes it sound somewhat brutal, but it really was not. Everyone was always laughing and was in excellent mood. Particuarly the men. Although my mother secretly hated this. I think every woman did.
As children, me and my sister would most of the time only receive a friendly squirt of water here and there. Thankfully.

What I remember even more with amusement is an alteration of this "watering" custom, performed by the boys from school, that wold stop by our door. They would be more polite and not pour buckets of water over me; no, they would spray my hair with cheap fragrances and perfumes. Imagine what I must have smelled like, as sometimes there could be twenty boys coming by in one afternoon. In return, they would get money or beautifully decorated Easter eggs. I think they preferred the money.

I remember going to bed in the evening stinking something unbelievable - but - my hair would not come nowhere near a shampoo. It was absolutely crucial to keep the smell lasting until the next day. In school, all the girls would then smell each others hair and of course only the ones that had the most incredible mixture of scents would be the popular one.
Today I can not help but wonder whether any of them poured some extra fragrances on their heads the night before.;)


j. said...

I really enjoyed reading this! Its fascinating how extremely different the way people celebrate the same holiday. Getting drenched in water all day long is certainly not an appealing thing-- but it does sound rather fun. I wonder.. can you runaway if you see someone coming at you with a bucket/glass of water?

I dont like the idea of the perfumes either but I couldnt help but giggle a little when I tried to picture what it must be like to smell of twenty something perfumes. I think I wouldve had an asthma attack! hehe..


I learn so much from your blog! :-)




Belated Happy Easter, Ms. Z!

Beverlydru said...

I've never heard of this and I was fascinated. You have unique memories! Thanks for sharing and Happy Monday. Sounds like you'll be staying dry. : )

Mahmud Yussop said...

Interesting tradition like these are sweet to pass on ( not forgetting the perfumes)because they form a rich cultural identity though may receive alterations over time. I like the beautiful costumes they wear.

Diane said...

Easter Monday for us was just another day off school. I miss that :)


I even played a bit with blue eyeshadow, don't know if it shows up in the photos? Timer/Tripod isn't as great as the photographer.. lol. oh well. :)

Happy Monday, dear. Hope you had a blast all weekend long. Wear blue, I know it'll look good on YOU! ♥


Betsy Brock said...

Wow..that is so interesting! I've never heard of any of these traditions. The buckets of water...I'm actually quite happy that we don't have that tradition here! I'll take a church service and some chocolate eggs instead! ha-ha! Some perfume would be nice, though!

Hazel Designs said...

Wow, what a neat tradition! I've never heard of it before :)

Happy Easter!

steviewren said...

Interesting memories! I'm just glad no one here pours water on me.

Hmmmm...cold water or being switched on the legs by willow branches...I'd don't which one would be my preference.

sallymandy said...

So interesting, Z! Thank you! I also read about Easter Monday customs in Italy on Aglio, Olio and Peperoncino, so I've learned a lot tonight. We don't have such a custom where I live, at least that I grew up with. Today, I'm mostly recovering from overeating with friends at Easter Dinner yesterday. I do think Americans work too much... :)

Loved this... thanks for kind comment on my blog.

Zuzana said...

glad you enjoyed this post.;))
Yes, women always tried to run but as you can see on the pictures, the men would not let them escape.;))
Thank you for the always wonderful comments you leave.;)xo

it is amusing at times to just sit down and remember my past and all the customs of all the countries that I have lived in.;) I consider myself lucky to have been able to embrace so many and make them my own, even if only for a short while.;)
Thank you so much for your lovely words.:)

yes these were pagan traditions that has been carried out for centuries.
I am happy you like the costumes, the Slavic people are known for the richness and the many colours of their traditional clothes.;) Always glad when you stop by.;)

you miss school? Not me, I am so happy that is done and over with.;)) I hope you had a lovely Easter my friend.;) xo

you took those pictures yourself? I am so impressed! You did a great job!;)) And please, continue wearing blue as well.;)) Thank you as always for stopping by, I know you have many places to visit.;))

yes, I think my mother would agree with you.;) In fact all the women that had to endure being showered would.;)
Hope you had a lovely Easter.;)

I am happy to have made you aware of something new, even though it is a bit odd custom.;))
Hope your Easter was wonderful.,))

yes, I guess it was the men that had all the fun that day.;)) Interestingly I recall, that upon our emigration to Sweden, the Slovak and Czech friends we had would still come by on this day and perform the ritual, so we did not escape the traditions.;))
Hope you had a lovely Easter.;)

it is so wonderful to find people such as your self who are genuinely interested in other cultures and traditions. I love that you are so curious and open to other experiences, in fact your blog is a proof of that.
And likewise back at you; thank you for your always genuinely kind words that you leave here.;)
Hope you had a wonderful Easter; sharing it with friends and good food sounds ideal.)

Hilary said...

This is fascinating and really rather amusing. If it wasn't already well into April and I didn't totally trust you, I'd suspect it was an April Fool's Day joke you were playing on us. It has that hard-to-believe-if-you've-never-grown-up-that-way quality to it. ;)

Zuzana said...

you are absolutely correct; it does sound like an April joke.;) But I swear, it is true. Strange, but true.;)) Always love your comments.;)

G said...

What a wacky and wonderful post! I've never heard of these traditions, but I can just imagine the licences taken with them. I don't think we had a single Easter Monday tradition except having the day off from school. Now, in Canada, only government workers, banks and schools are off, if I'm correct. So yes... I worked. :(

Zuzana said...

yes,these traditions are somewhat odd, but make now for great stories and memories.;)
Sorry, you had to work; I worked too.;))

Noelle Chantal said...

This is one fun tradition, Protege! It's so fun to picture your father pouring a glass of water to your mom while sleeping. haha! and spraying perfumes all over you! haha that's funny and i wonder how you smell after. hehe! :)

Zuzana said...

yes, it was always very funny and even though we expected it, it was always a surprise to get water in our face.;))