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Catholic Activity: Slovakian Easter Custom

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The Slovaks end their Easter festivities with this mischievous and symbolic custom, in which children love to participate.

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The Easter festivities, among the Slovaks, are brought to a close Easter Monday and Tuesday, with a very quaint and interesting custom. On Monday the men and boys spill water on the women and girls, and then on Tuesday the order is reversed, the women and girls doing the same to the men and boys.

This custom is carried out not only in their own homes. After they have done it in their own homes, they go out visiting relatives and friends, doing the same in these homes. Originally the water was only poured on the hands, but abuse crept in, and now the person involved usually gets more water on the head and face than on the hands.

This is all taken in a good, cheerful spirit, the women and girls knowing that they will get their chance to retaliate the next day when they call on the men and boys.

Various explanations are offered for the custom. Some say it refers to the incident of Pilate washing his hands before all as a sign of protest before passing final sentence upon the Innocent Savior. Others say that the soldiers, in an attempt to disperse the multitude which persisted in choosing Barabbas and clamoring for Our Lord's crucifixion, threw water at them.

Others again say that the women who came to anoint the body of Jesus received the same treatment when they insisted on seeing Christ, after they had been told by the soldiers He was not there, and they were too slow to realize just what had happened. Finally, still others say that water was used in an attempt to disperse the people crowded in front of Pilate's home, after news of the resurrection had spread.

Activity Source: Your Home, A Church in Miniature by Compiled by The Family Life Bureau in the early 1950s, The Neumann Press, Long Prairie, Minnesota, 1994

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