The hand-painted or otherwise decorated egg is is the most recognizable symbol of Czech Easter. Girls decorate Easter eggs to give them to boys on Easter Monday. There are many Easter egg decorating techniques. Different materials can be used, such as bee's wax, straw, watercolors, onion peels, picture stickers. There are no limitations to creating pretty, colorful eggs. Traditionally, Easter eggs, hard-boiled eggs dyed bright red to symbolize the spilt Blood of Christ and the promise of eternal life, are cracked together to celebrate the opening of the Tomb of Christ.
Whipping brings good luck, wealth and rich harvest for the whole year. The strength from the rods is passed onto the person whipped. The whip or "pomlazka" is made from willow rods. The easiest variety is made from three rods, but it can be braided from 8, 12 or even 24 rods.
An eight-rod whip
Soak eight thick rods until soft and flexible. Tie thick bottom end tightly together and cross individual rods - from the left and from the right in turns, see picture. Tie the top of the "pomlázka" and decorate with colourful ribbons.
Mařena, Mařena, za koho umrela.
Za pana Martina s černýma očima.
Buďte báby veselé, nové léto neseme.
On the so-called "Death Sunday" - two weeks before Easter Sunday - unmarried girls used to make a dummy symbolising Death. It was called Smrt, Smrtholka, Morena or Marena. It was usually made of straw, dressed in old clothes, decorated with eggshells or empty snail shells. The girls would carry Death outside the village where they burnt it or more often threw it into a stream or river which took it away as a symbol of the parting winter.
Líto, líto, líto, where have you been so long...
The counterpoint to Death was "Líto", which symbolised the coming of spring and renewal of life. Unlike Death it was made of a living and colourful thing, like a sapling or a green twig - symbolising life. There were two kinds of traditional "líto". In the west of the country, in Bohemia and parts of Moravia bordering on Bohemia, they were made from the tops of conifer trees. In the east, especially on the Slovak border, they were traditionally made from sallow branches. The "líto" was accompanied by a doll, a symbol of the future and fertility.
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