Strange Slovakian Easter Traditions, Soaking and Whipping!
Veľká noc, Slovakian Easter
When bloated children across the land are eagerly gobbling up chocolate eggs in celebration of Easter, we give little thought to how things are celebrated in other countries. Right in the heart of central Europe is the little known country of Slovakia and if you take a holiday there over Easter you’ll find they celebrate it very differently indeed.
Veľká noc, literally: ‘the great night’ as the Easter celebration is known in Slovakia involves many quite normal traditions such as beautifully painted eggs. But, beautiful as the hand-painted eggs are, there are two other traditions which are much more interesting; oblievačka and šibačka.
Oblievačka, Soaking the Women
A traditional holiday activity that is a whole lot more fun than painted eggs (well, for spectators at least) is Oblievačka, the soaking of the women!
Groups of men, often dressed in traditional costumes will roam the streets and go from door to door looking for women to soak with buckets of water. Even staying indoors is no protection as male members of the family will simply hand out a good drenching there too, or drag the unfortunate women into the shower!
It doesn’t matter if it’s cold or raining, it’s all about tradition and a good soaking is what you’ll get, quite often more than one!
Šibačka, Whipping the Women
As if getting a good soaking wasn’t a miserable enough way to experience the Easter holiday, there is also šibačka, whipping the women!
In this odd Slovakian Easter tradition the men will make little willow canes and going around whipping the freshly soaked women. And if you think this is strange, they also sing a little rhyme: “Šibi, ribi, mastné ryby”, which roughly translates as “whippy whippy greasy fish” while they are doing it. What on earth have greasy fish got to do with it and why would you feel the urge to whip them anyway? None of our Slovakian friends have come up with a decent explanation for this.
To add insult to injury the women are then expected to pay the menfolk off with cakes, sweets or even money after a good soaking and a thrashing! The men also get treated to shots (lots and lots of shots) of the insanely alcoholic Slovakian brandy to help keep their spirits up during their arduous day.
Slovakian women must really look forward to the Easter holiday, waterboarded, whipped and then expected to bribe their tormentors! This isn’t all just an exercise in sado-masochism, these are centuries old traditions that date back to pre-christian times and are believed to increase health and fertility. At the end of the day it’s now just a bit of traditional fun.
Before anyone snorts in derision we should remember that England used to have folk traditions too. The whole of mainland Europe has managed to keep many hundreds of these old traditions alive, whereas in England they have all been killed off. Except morris dancing. That’s now the sum total of England’s contribution to the world’s rich folk heritage, bloody morris dancing. A bunch of prancing Jeremy Corbyn lookalikes, wearing blouses and dodgy shorts with jingly bells, tapping each-other with sticks, while singing droning nasal songs with titles like “Smile, Mother Cheesemaker” and “John Brown Stroked My Goat”.
Hand me the bucket and some willow canes please, it’s “whippy whippy greasy fish” time!