Women Watch Out For This In Slovakia

Whips

April 8, 2012

Allan Stevo

For some, part of the Slovak Easter Monday celebration includes whipping or “watering” members of the fairer sex.

Most females seek to avoid such whippings.  Some females welcome them for a variety of reasons that I will not go in depth about at this time, but which range from good blessings of health and beauty to simply socializing with friends and family.

Some day (not today) I will sit down and write more about my feelings of the Easter Monday tradition.  It’s a topic I’ve been writing about for more than a year, but that I have not yet finished writing about.  There is much behind this celebration that is not initially apparent.   Once a tradition I considered barbaric, I dug more deeply and started to learn to see why the tradition is in fact something very special, something even under-appreciated by many Slovaks.

As for now, I will simply wish you a Happy Easter and hope that if you are female, you keep an eye out for whips on Monday – so that you can either run from the bearer of the whip or run towards him (depending on your feelings about this tradition).  For those of you who have never been chased by a male carrying a whip as you scream at the top of your lungs, I will include a few photos that you may know what to look for.  Happy Easter.

Whips being sold at Tesco in Bratislava's city center, alongside some Easter decorations.

 

More whips being sold at Tesco. Whips have ribbons at the top which are decorative, but which can also be used to help keep the braid of the whip tied tight.

Three sizes of whips being sold by a vendor at Mileticka.

Whips and flowers on sale at Mileticova. Some of these whips stand taller than a grown adult's waist.

This vendor at Mileticova is selling a whip that is as long as she is tall.

 

A basket full of handmade whips at Mileticova.

 

Allan Stevo writes on Slovak culture at www.52inSk.com.  He is from Chicago and spends most of his time travelling Europe and writing.  You can find more of his writing at www.AllanStevo.com.  If you enjoyed this post, please use the buttons below to like it on Facebook or to share it with your friends by email.  You can sign up for emails on Slovak culture from 52 Weeks in Slovakia by clicking here.

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Comments

  • I grew up in a Slovak community in New York and when I was a child we took little twigs and went to family’s houses. The girls “whipped” the boys and the boys “whipped ” the girls. I never knew the story behind it, it was just a tradition!

  • Oh–it was called something like “slahat”

  • Hey, has anyone ever teached you how to knit a wip?

  • David Kuchta

    Apr 8th, 2012

    As a young child, I went up to a neighbor lady and did this trdition. I used a pussy willow branch, every so lightly. The older women was a Slovaak women that I called Teta.. She liked that I knew the traditon. In return I got a choclate bunny and some hard boiled eggs.
    At the age of 78, it is a happy memory of a tradition that is now forgotten.

  • Alan,
    Albeit short, this is a great article. I am now going to be patently awaiting for your larger price that goes in depth into these traditions. Every region in SvK does things a little different, but the best sightings of my life were from northern regions (villages such as Detva), where the traditional colors, proudly still worn on ‘kroj’, are set against the breathtaking beauty of lower and upper Tatra.
    Growing up in southeast part of the country (near Nitra), easter Monday was hand down my favorite holiday of the year. It was the one and only day to make some serious money. We’d get up super early (4am) and get together with my buddies. Once geographical plan of attack was assembled, we’d patiently carry it out, all on our feet and bikes, until we were too tired to even move. That would last till about 2 pm.
    We mostly watered girls, and also dished out a small volume of perfume into their hair, as of to say : yeah you are completely wet, but look at the bright side, you smell great. Needless to say, the combination of such diversified set of parfumes most likely made them want to puke. When we were all done, we would be garnished with all sorts of sweets (kinderegg being the most sought after bounty), AND we also get paid ! Thus my reference that this was the one day a kid could make serious money.
    Down the road, as we were teenagears, we’d less care about the money and more about the soft factors such as wet t-shirt spectacles … Anyway, my point is that I am really looking forward learning what you gathered that would bebunk this whole ‘a-man-must-have-come-us-with-this’ sentiment your readers most likely feel.
    Thanks and Happy Easter!
    Ps : go get ’em boys !

  • I became aware of the whipping custom when about 30 years ago family and I traveled to Czechoslovakia to explore my father’s and maternal grandmother’s roots. As I recall, it was during Easter, traveled by train from Bratislava to Myjava and we were waiting on a corner for a ride. I ventured away from my group to window shop and two teen-aged boys came up and started motioning with their whips. Not aware of the custom and unable to speak Slovak I quickly returned to my laughing group. After that event the day held even more cultural surprises.

  • Barbara Kantor

    Apr 9th, 2012

    I enjoyed your article. Even though I am a Slovak American I have never heard about this custom until a few years ago. I want to make a few whips so I can proudly display them on my wall as part of my Slovak Heritage. Thank you for the article.

  • Janzo: I don’t think many Americans know what Kinder eggs are, they are banned in USA (some stupid law to protect the children from swallowing the small plastic parts).

    And later when we were older it was also pretty hard to go around all the families since everyone greeted you with a shot or two of pálenka – by the end of your “trip” you were all pretty drunk. 😀

    By the way, some pictures from today’s newspaper:

    http://trebisov.korzar.sme.sk/c/6331257/tradicna-oblievacka-v-trebisove.html

  • Never heard of this tradition. In our New Jersey neighborhood, the girls used to spill water on the boys on Easter Monday. It’s fun though to hear of other traditions.

  • i am a slovak living in slovakia – it is not only “sibacka”, but also watering girls and women. in cities with glasses, in the country with buckets full of ice water. Once men do the job, women are supposed to give them something to drink and eat. sometimes it is very good being a slovak:)

  • I am from Slovakia and its great to hear, that someone wants to know our traditions :) Thank you for your interest.

  • Easter “watering” in High Tatras :)
    http://vimeo.com/10630439

  • I am a 16 year old girl that is going to be an exchange student in Slovakia next school year for 11 months. I really enjoy reading these kind of articles, as they prepare me for my year abroad. Though, I do wish, someone would tell me what the story is behind this tradition. Most Slovak people have no idea how it started.

  • Bethany >> it is part of our pre-Christian pagan tradition. No one knows any more what original reason for it was. Old pagan religion and beliefs are long lost, surviving only in fragments like this one. Popular belief is that this ritual spring beating and washing should ensure girls and women to be healthy and beautiful for whole next year. Which probably is not far from its original purpose.

    This is not only such tradition, there are dozens of them. Most of them got partially blended over time with Christian traditions. Sometimes church intentionally integrated them in to Christian traditions to eradicate old pagan beliefs. Generally they are called “folklore” here in Slovakia.

  • I enjoyed your article. Even though I am a Slovak American I have never heard about this custom until a few years ago. I want to make a few whips so I can proudly display them on my wall as part of my Slovak Heritage.

  • you can find ways to tie a whip on youtube. here are some examples, just get 10-12 fresh, spring willow tweaks. here is a link to a pretty basic whip made out of 8 tweaks

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=NtRTqwCpc-8

    but i dont get what is the use for the whip on your wall, why don´t you try using it?

  • I enjoyed your text. Even though I am a Slovak American I have never heard about this custom until a few years ago. I would like to create a few whips so I can proudly display them on my wall as part of my Slovak Heritage.

  • […] Women Watch Out For This in Slovakia has a few photos with captions helping to describe a bit of the Easter Monday tradition, focusing specifically on the whips used. […]

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