Some Get Beating, and Some Get Booze: Two Sides of the Same Egg

Living Journalism

Some Get Beating, and Some Get Booze: Two Sides of the Same Egg


A simple principle states that when you whip a woman, you get an egg. Easter used to be a pagan celebration welcoming spring, but Christians later adopted it as a commemoration of JC's death and resurrection. Despite the Czech Republic is an atheistic country, Easter is still celebrated here. Traditionally, to beat women, you weave eight sticks into one thicker stick, which may also be called a rejuvenator. The aim is not sadistic; rather, it is believed that whipping women will make them younger, and they will reward you in return. When you were young, the reward was chocolate or a hard-boiled egg, but now it's usually a strong alcoholic drink. My friends and I have made a stick for this purpose, and tomorrow we're heading to a village where Ondra's grandparents live. They got completely drunk last year, but they claim they won't repeat that tomorrow. I don't believe them.


The night before Easter, I can't sleep. All I can think about is how they'll beat me tomorrow morning. I wonder if we could celebrate Easter differently, without violence and alcohol. When I was eleven, I spent Easter in Ireland with my uncle. We looked for sweets in the garden with other children, enjoyed beautiful decorations, and had lots of good food and drinks. It was a pleasant experience. But back to reality. Now all I can think about is when and how my hatred for Easter started. I was around five when my neighbor and his two adult sons started coming to our house around seven on Easter Monday. I still remember the anxiety and chills that the doorbell's sound sent down my spine. I was terrified, but I knew that running away wasn't a solution because it would make things worse. So, there was only one way to survive the morning: let them throw a bucket of cold water on you or end up in a lake or pool. And they didn't care that it was freezing. Tomorrow, I have to wake up early and prepare for the same circus. Although this practice isn't common in most parts of the Czech Republic, it happens in my area. Sometimes, I wish I had been born somewhere else.


I'm hit by cold water all over my body and face, and before I can even open my eyes, I feel the sting of someone whipping me. It's my dad. At that moment, I realize that Easter Monday has arrived again. It's been sixteen years since my first bad memory of this holiday, and nothing has changed.


I've arrived at Ondra's house with Vláďa and Peter. We get in the car, but before we head to the village, we make a stop at my house to whip my mom and grandma. Once we're done, my dad brings out a bottle of Zelená – a mint-flavored liquor. "We need to drink this. Help us," he says. The bottle is two-thirds full, and there were originally three liters of the stuff. We take our first shots of the day from this giant bottle, and it's a miracle it doesn't spill.

Since Vláďa lives on the next street, we also stop at his house to whip his mom and grandma. His dad asks us if we drink whisky... well, we do now.

Despite already having two shots, we haven't even started yet.


I need to change my clothes since I'm still wet. After that, I brush my teeth and hair and head for breakfast. Then, I assist my mom in painting eggs, and once we're done, we place them in a basket and gather sweets and alcohol for the carolers.


We are welcomed into Ondra's grandparents' house with a bottle of what we think is water, only to find out it is homemade Slivovice. "Do you want a shot or an egg?" they ask us. Without hesitation, we answer, "Yes." I don't dare to ask how strong the alcohol is; ignorance is bliss. I manage to keep it down and even get an egg as a reward.

As we leave, Peter shares with us the story of how great of a guy Ondra's grandpa used to be. Apparently, he was quite a wild one in his youth, especially during Easter. "He used to go from door to door shouting, 'Do you want me to beat you, or do you want to beat me off?'" Peter laughs.9:00

Look, there's my grandpa! The whole family has arrived, including my uncle, grandmother, and cousins. I have a big family, so at least I'm not the only girl there. They are all drinking different types of alcohol, and they even offer me a small shot. I hate alcohol!


I love alcohol! We have already had about six shots and are trying to visit every house. We start by knocking on the door with our stick, then we "beat" the women of the house (lightly tapping them with the stick). However, the next house doesn't have any women. Instead, the man of the house offers us something even better - sandwiches. He explains that his wife is at work but invites us to have a bite. And of course, there's Slivovice to wash it down. We take a drink before eating to cleanse our palates, but unfortunately, we can't stay long. We have to move on to the next house.


I hear some loud noises, and our dog starts to bark. A few seconds later, our doorbell rings. I immediately recognize my friend Mates, but with him comes a group of boys that I have never seen before. Mates picks me up and together with two other boys, they run to our bathroom where they drench me with cold water from the shower. Everyone starts singing the Easter carol “Hody, hody, doprovody, dejte vejce malovaný…” and I cringe. It's not even 9:30 in the morning. Everyone is intoxicated, and I’m soaked to my bones. Then someone pulls a cologne out of his pocket and sprays it all over me.


I have no idea how much we have drank. Still standing on our feet though. We come across three young girls who are caroling. Although it's not a typical tradition for them to do so, they look joyful. I hope they look happy because of chocolate, not booze. It´s undoubtedly both for me.


I have to help my mum prepare chocolate and alcohol for the carolers who will be stopping by today. It's always nice to have them over. After each whipping, my dad offers them shots of Slivovice, which they gladly accept. I don't really understand why everyone needs to drink to have fun, but it's not the main problem. The real issue is that with each shot, the beatings seem to get worse, and some men even think it's funny to whip women. It's not fun when I can barely sit without feeling pain. I need to make some sandwiches, but I can't find my glasses.


"Hey, guys, this is the field where I lost my glasses last year!" Peter shouts. He proceeds to tell us the story of how his ex-girlfriend had to come back a few hours later, after they finished caroling and were sleeping off their hangover, to search for his glasses. She was able to track them down thanks to the puddles of his vomit.


How do they keep finding us? Is there a big sign on our home that says "Whip us, give us cold water?" I suggest every year that we stop answering the door, but my mom wants to keep the tradition going. My dad is too drunk to care, but he insists we keep it up. Oh well, there's no time to argue now, someone's beating on the door again.


We approach a house and knock, but no one answers, so we move on to find another one. After walking a few meters, Vláďa spots a house and insists we go there. "We just tried that house," I remind him, but he doesn't believe me, so we go anyway, sneaking in through the back.

A woman greets us at the door. "I remember you. You were walking on all fours last year," she says. While my friends don't recognize her, she clearly remembers us. We quickly take our egg and shot and prepare to leave. But then, the woman's husband approaches us and gives each of us fifty crowns. "Go buy yourselves a beer," he says.

With only one more hour to go, I wish we could keep going all day. It's a shame it has to end so soon.


Just one more hour left. I can't take it anymore. I'm counting down the minutes. The eggs are running low, but no one seems to care. All they care about is the alcohol. It's clear that everyone has had too much by now, even though they deny it.


I have no idea why we are still not wasted but I am not complaining. In this house, there isn't just a bottle of Slivovice, they have a full bar. We order a shot of the thing that every Czech turns to after fifty drinks for lunch – Fernet. But before we can gulp it down, a man in his underpants opens a door and pours a shot of Slivovice for himself. “Here´s to you,” we say in unison.


This "wonderful" tradition is coming to an end. I let the mattress air out, then apply ointment to my bruises and help my mum clean up the mess. All the alcohol is gone. I hope everyone has a massive hangover tomorrow.


The end. We survive without getting wasted. Absolute win. At Ondra's grandparents, we are having celebratory shots of their Slivovice, one for each foot. Vláďa's dad comes to pick us up, but we're not ready to call it a day just yet. The day is still young, so let's grab a beer or two.

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