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.;)