Saturday, March 31, 2012

Spank Her!

UNYP students from around the world talk about their traditional Easter

By Barbora Netolická

“On Easter you take girls’ eggs away, and then you spank them as a reward.”

That would be the description of Czech Easter by Oli Zhuk, a UNYP Psychology student from Ukraine. Though not exactly correct, it is in keeping with celebrations around the world that score high in holiday weirdness.

Willow stick

Do you know how UNYPers celebrate Easter? Spanking, egg fights, egg hunts, bunny hunts, egg painting with symbolic Jesus’ blood, tracking kangaroos, generous bells, planting seeds – we have it all.

Inspired by the holiday season, UNYPRESS conducted a survey among students to find out more about Easter customs in their countries.

In the Czech Republic and Slovakia, on Easter Monday morning boys traditionally come with a hand made stick out of fresh willow branches, and whip the girls to get the winter out of them and make them prettier. In return, the grateful girls offer them eggs they have decorated the night before. Sometimes, they add either money for young boys, or a shot of liquor for older ones. Later on, in the afternoon, the girls have the right to pour water on the boys in revenge.

Some Czech and Slovak students report enjoying the tradition, while others describe it as a trauma. Petr Smetal, a Czech Communication student, explains that the tradition differs from region to region. “In the Vsetín region, people are crazy – they really beat the girls up,” he says. “They use juniper wood with thorns. And then the habit is to throw them [the girls] into a cold pool to make it more painful. But in the Olomouc region it’s a nice tradition where the whipping is rather symbolic, and it is more about meeting old friends.”

The Czech Republic is not the only country with confusing Easter habits. In Australia, where an overpopulation of rabbits poses an ecological threat, the Anti-Rabbit Research Foundation runs a campaign to replace the Easter Bunny with the Easter Bilby (an endangered native species). According to Marcus Bergner, a UNYP Media History teacher from Australia, it is quite unclear who brings the chocolate Easter eggs in that part of the world.

“There was this confusion – you were supposed to be looking for chocolate eggs from rabbits, but they were actually brought by kangaroos,” he says. “When I was a child we used to go to very remote parts of the prairie, where there were a lots of kangaroos supposedly dropping things, and we had to be looking for the eggs they left behind.”

Jules - Germany
In France, “bells are coming to give you some chocolates and you have to go to the garden and find them,” says Alexandre Ehrlacher, a Business student from France. He explains how on Easter French family gardens are filled with children running with little baskets with their names on them, looking for Easter chocolate. “Whoever finds the most chocolates receives the biggest present afterwards.”

Similarly, Christina Kneitz, a Communication student, says about South African Easter: “The parents hide chocolate eggs in the garden and then children go with their little baskets and look for them. [In our family] the golden prize was a big chocolate bunny wrapped in golden foil. I had a brother and sister, and whoever found it won. Then we painted real eggs with little brushes. We used to paint little flowers and other motifs.”

Kneitz also spent a great part of her life in Germany. “There we paint eggs by boiling them in a pot with colored water,” she says.

 According to Jules Blashe from Berlin, also a Communication student, after decorating the eggs, German parents hide them in the garden for children to find. “Sometimes they do it so well that no one finds the eggs,” she says. “And sometimes they forget where they hid the eggs, and we find them a year later, It’s very disgusting, but quite funny. You can smell it from far away, and you can puke. It is probably the most disgusting smell ever, and the eggs are completely dark and liquid.”

Lilly - Vietnam
Russian Easter eggs go red in memory of the blood of Christ. “We use onions and vegetables to paint them,” says Rita Fatina, a Communication student from Russia. “We basically put it all in a pot and cook it, and the eggs get colored like that.” Church is also an important part of the celebration. “Those who are religious go to church twice a day on Easter,” she says, adding that the main Russian television channel always broadcasts the services. “It is boring, but they do it anyway.”

“We also do egg fights,” says Sergei, a Communication student from Russia. “We get on the floor with eggs and roll them against each other. Whose egg breaks, he is the loser.”

There is a similar tradition in Georgia. “Just like in other orthodox countries, we have the red eggs,” says Nini Zalkaliani, a Communication student from Tbilisi. “We have a certain saying and we crack them [against each other]. The broken egg is the loser.” Easter has great importance in Georgia, just like in Greece, Zalkaliani says. “People go to church before midnight, and stay over the whole night. A lot of people are religious in Georgia, so a lot of people go. It is a certain ritual; I like it.”

Hajar - Azerbaijan
In contrast, Lilly H. Tran, a Communication student from Vietnam, says Easter is only celebrated by a small community of Christians that comprises about 20 percent of the Vietnamese population.  “If you are looking for Easter in Vietnam, you will find some, but just passing on the street you will not even notice it is Easter,” she says. “[Those who celebrate] decorate their church and build a tent around it.” And what about chocolate and eggs in Vietnam? “I think on Easter they give each other chocolate inside the church.”

Seonghee - Korea
Azerbaijan uses a totally different calendar, according to Hajar Bayramova, a Communication student, and so Easter falls at a different time of year there. At this time of year, the locals celebrate New Year in a manner comparable to Christian Easter: “We make baklava and rice, a famous dish. We also have eggs that we paint, and we knock them one against each other. Then we have a Semeni –we put seeds in water in a square dish and a green plant rises, meaning that a new life, a new year is coming.” Hajar says the charm of New Year is that night and day are equally long.

“Easter, I am not sure what it is,” says Seonghee Ahn from Korea. Apparently, among countries represented at UNYP, there are regions where Easter does not exist at all

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