S&M Easter - whips, nails, but no bunnies
April 14, 2003 7:22 AM   Subscribe

So how will you spend Easter? Are your plans just a tad pedestrian? If egg hunts leave you cold, perhaps you need a bit more edge. For many, things begin this week. In Czechoslovakia, men carry woven willow sticks and whip girls on the legs, but in Taxco, Mexico, it's all about self-flagellation. In the U.S., many go theatrical with a living last supper; in the Philippines they favor more authenticity - every year about 20 people re-enact the crucifixion, nails & all. If that's too real, you could order supplies to build a backyard corpus shrine for next year. - more -
posted by madamjujujive (23 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
More information on the unusual Pampagna crucifixions:
Crucifixion participant's story
Observerations by a traveler
16 men and one woman crucified in 2002
More crucifixion photos

And as for the odd Czech girl-lashing custom - I was in Prague over Easter one year and had to avoid roving gangs of boys and men carrying bundles of sticks. Whipping up some Easter fun explains more about this custom, and this site - tho in Czech - has detailed pix of a boy braiding willow twigs to make a switch called a pomlazka.
posted by madamjujujive at 7:25 AM on April 14, 2003

in the Philippines they favor more authenticity - every year about 20 people re-enact the crucifixion, nails & all.

Well, on the one hand, it shows an amazing commitment to one's faith. On the other hand, it's bugfuck crazy.

Oh, and on both hands it's a nail wound.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 7:36 AM on April 14, 2003

Somehow i knew that the Philippines it was going to be something OTT, and that in the Czech Republic (Czechoslovakia no longer exists IIRC) it was going to involve some sexual/sexist element and women. It must be something about the country...
posted by twine42 at 7:40 AM on April 14, 2003

For those more fond of a buzz than stigmata, do what my family does:

To increase attendance, Mom replaced easter eggs with beer bottles.
posted by halcyon at 7:44 AM on April 14, 2003

No discussion of extravagant Easter celebrations would be complete without a nod to pysanky, the art of Ukrainian egg decorating, which has a rich symbology. These are really meant to be seen up close in person - the photos never really quite get across the extreme "wow" factor - but this gives you some idea. And here's a related thread from last summer from mediareport.
posted by soyjoy at 8:00 AM on April 14, 2003

(Troll post...)
It's a religious holiday for a religion in which I don't believe - to whatever extent I'm allowed, I don't observe it.

Reenacting the crucifixion? Isn't that a bit narcissistic? "Look - I'm so pious that I'm going to fake dying for your sins!" It has the same social stigma (no, not stigmata...) as one comedian performing another comedian's act, only to forget the punch line. Wouldn't it be more practical to just not sin?
posted by FormlessOne at 8:11 AM on April 14, 2003

Nothing beats painting the inside of an old bathtub bright blue, burying half of it vertically in your yard (front or back, your choice), and placing a statue of the Virgin Mary in the center. I used to consider it a tad trashy until I grew up and realized how serious some people regard their Virgin Mary bathtubs as a sign of their faith. What one tradition sees as lawn ornaments, another scraps together with whatever is hanging around to create something with meaning.

Virgin Mary bathtubs. That's America folks.
posted by Tystnaden at 8:31 AM on April 14, 2003

I'm Jewish but Easter [in the interest of fostering inter-faith dialogue, of cough course] is irresistible in Portugal. As a people we couldn't possibly eat and drink more or better than we already do, so there's no noticeable increase in consumption. Just variety: sugar-coated pink and white almonds; lots of complicated sweets and extra-thick bacalhau are compulsory. We are also invaded by over a million Spaniards.

Here's the mind-boggling menu of a famous all-you-can-eat Portuguese restaurant, called Tromba Rija (don't ask) where only one in a million has ever got past the hors d'oeuvres. A lot of us will be making our way there. [Enjoy the music too! It's free!]
posted by MiguelCardoso at 8:43 AM on April 14, 2003

I'm going to camp out in a teepee on an organic farm in western Wisconsin. I'll help with some of the work, drink myself into unconsciousness Saturday night, and rise from the dead Sunday morning.
posted by rocketman at 9:18 AM on April 14, 2003

I'll be chucking myself & my non-suspension mountain bike down the South Downs which is pretty masochistic...
posted by i_cola at 9:45 AM on April 14, 2003

posted by quonsar at 10:49 AM on April 14, 2003

To celebrate Easter in Texas, for almost 60 years, they've been setting the hills on fire. "It blends the history of the community and the local fable of the Easter Bunny with the deeply religious facets of Easter for a most delightful evening."
posted by LeLiLo at 11:40 AM on April 14, 2003

Absolutely fantastic post, madamjujujive... thanks.
The Easter myth seems above all to be about death, and a way of coming to terms with it; something which is mostly taboo in our society. One striking thing about English churches which date from the Tudor or medieval periods is the (by our standards) graphic way they treat death - using imagery such as skeletons carved onto tombs, etc.

Deathonline.net is the website of an exhibition about attitudes to death being developed by the Australian Museum; some of the stories are quite interesting.
posted by plep at 12:03 PM on April 14, 2003

The self-flagellation links remind me a bit of Thaipusam, a festival of atonement celebrated by Hindus living in Malaysia and Singapore. Penitents' participation can involve mortifying the flesh - piercing cheeks, tongue or forehead. I've even seen pictures of penitents carrying fruit, hooked into their bare backs. All this
in stifling tropical heat, and often barefoot - and following a month long fast where they are allowed but a single vegetarian meal daily!

Some Thaipusam images here so you can see what I mean. Here's an interesting article about Thaipusam in Malaysia, detailing the religious beliefs behind it and the ordeals the penitents have to go through.
posted by plep at 12:36 PM on April 14, 2003

Then there are mystery plays.

The Chester Mystery Plays.

The York Mystery Plays. Images from performances.
posted by plep at 12:54 PM on April 14, 2003

I guess Thaipusam is like the Phuket Vegetarian Festival, from mmj's crucifiction link, which, judging from this man whacking himself in the forehead with an axe, seems pretty hardcore.
posted by jennyb at 2:13 PM on April 14, 2003

For easter, I'm busy dancing at Easter Swing a yearly event in Seattle.

While the modern crucifixion seems like a little crazy, why can't they get the nails in the correct places? They're actually in the wrist between the bones -- otherwise it'd be easy to rip the cartalge between the fingers and get yourself down.

I know its tradition to show the nails in the hands, but that's because the jewish word for hand includes much of the for-arm. (As does the japanese, and probably others.)

posted by woil at 2:23 PM on April 14, 2003

Personally, I'm going to miss the annual festival of ham and mayonayse (potato salad, egg salad, macaroni salad, seafood salad, and three bean salad) in favor of a train trip to Chicago for a conference.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 4:08 PM on April 14, 2003

the Phuket Vegetarian Festival ... which, judging from this man whacking himself in the forehead with an axe, seems pretty hardcore.

Gives a whole new meaning to "straightedge."
posted by soyjoy at 7:36 AM on April 15, 2003

Hey, does anybody mind if I re-post the pysanky stuff on the front page? I don't know what I was thinkin' posting it here. At one point the thread looked like it was going to expand beyond the S&M theme, but then it didn't (which is fine, since that's what it was about). Anyway, I'll give y'all an hour to raise any "repost" objections... thanks.
posted by soyjoy at 12:58 PM on April 17, 2003

All right, then.
posted by soyjoy at 2:25 PM on April 17, 2003



Damn! Too late! ;)
posted by MiguelCardoso at 3:03 PM on April 17, 2003

The Easter myth seems above all to be about death

Eh? The entire Christian religion is a death-cult. Of course Easter is all about death.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:47 PM on April 17, 2003

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