„Women hate it, men love it,“ says one Slovak ethnographer. On Easter Monday in Slovakia we have some pretty unique tradition. Men go around to the homes of their friends and relatives that are women and throw water on them and whipp them with long willow sticks. And the women are so grateful they give the men chocolate eggs and money in return!
Well, the tradition is that the water and „beating“ with the whips gives women health for the following year and a long life.
The water-throwing and whipping became linked to the Easter holiday after Christianity came to Slovakia in the 9th century. But the traditions originated as part of folk beliefs based on nature’s cycle. Mid-April was celebrated as a time of rebirth: processions were used to drive away evil spirits, houses were decorated with vegetation and whipping and water were employed to ensure a young woman’s fertility and beauty. It was believed that the vitality from the young twigs entwined in the whip would flow into the woman’s body.
While many traditions have died out, Easter Monday’s water and whipping have remained a colourful relic of Slovak folk life.