Today, wonderful Lili told me about a festival that's currently going on in rural Czechia <3
Apparently, on this day, men gather willow sticks - it HAS to be LIVE willow, NOT dead - and braid them into pretty, long sticks called "pomlázka"
Men have to walk around finding women and whipping them on the butt with the pomlázka, saying a special rhyme as they do it. This process acts as a charm to keep the women young, beautiful, and fertile.
For every woman's butt that he whacks with his pomlázka, the man gets to tie a coloured ribbon onto it! This makes it, from what I gather, a kind of butt-whipping competition between the men.
You can do this to ANY of the women in the village, even those who are strangers to you.
In the afternoon, beware! The women get to turn the tables! If a man goes to a woman's house - or any other place where a woman is - after noon, and it takes her fancy, she gets to tip water all over him!
Thus, in the afternoon, the men go to the houses of those who they know and trust in order to stay "safe" from the dowsing, putting their pomlázka to one side as they eat and drink. They move briskly between the houses of their closest, staying for a while in each, seemingly getting more gorged and drunk as they go along, just like the households that host them and celebrate with them.
This is a beautiful and very obviously Pagan festival, and being told about it made me smile. I particularly love the detail that the willow-branches have to be LIVING, to convey the fertility of the tree onto the women. I also love the silly competitive element (Daughter is right - masculinity without competition of some kind does not computer), and I love the cheeky role-reversal of the afternoon, where the spanked women get to get their revenge on any men who come to them! That is also a very Pagan thing - women looking men right in the eye. :3
What a wonderful celebration of life.
So! If you see a Czech girl today, make sure you whip her on the butt as hard as you can. Okay?image.png