The rites of passage adds a spring to your step


Does our new bride need another for luck?

Spring rites of fertility pre-date civilisation. The ancients, before the restraints of civilisation used to relate to the world in a more fundamental way. They knew that death and rebirth were linked, as were creation and destruction.

This is all bound up in notions of birth and sacrifice and pleasure and pain. That is why so many spring rites around the world’s longest surviving cultures include the whipping of females around springtime.

Many of these have survived as customs into our modern era. In some parts of the Africa, it was a tradition to bless a new venture by chastising a woman with twigs cut from certain ‘lucky’ trees.

In parts England, it was common to spank or chastise the bride at or before her wedding for good luck.

In the former Czechoslovakia, there is a tradition of spanking or whipping women on certain days in the spring, particularly at Easter. In the morning, men spank women with a special handmade whip called a pomlázka or korbác.

This consists of eight, 12 or even 24 willow rods and is usually from half a meter to two meters long and decorated with coloured ribbon.

One legend says that women should be whipped in order to keep their health and beauty during whole next year.

Some of these traditions may have crossed the Atlantic with American immigration. It is probable that here the have become confused.

In one part of the States, newly wed women were sometimes spanked in their first spring of marriage to aid children.

In another part, perhaps jealous girl friends of the bride ‘kidnapped’ her and variously spanked her or applied a switch to her bare bottom until she cried off. The number of strokes she could sustain was the number of happy years she was supposed to have in her marriage.

Whether any of these customs still continue is open to debate. May be someone knows more.

6 Responses to “The rites of passage adds a spring to your step”

  1. 1 Karl Friedrich Gauss

    Nice collection of spring customs there, Damien. One wonders at the deeper meaning behind it all.

    I mean was it just an excuse to have some fun at the young ladies’ expense, or are there deeper mysteries behind these ancient customs. My guess is YES, although I don’t have much of an inkling as to what they might be. Anyone?

  2. 2 Karl Friedrich Gauss

    I also read that spanking of grown women was popular among the gypsies. Your picture reminds me of that. Where is that picture from, anyway? And what sort of practice or custom is it intended to depict? It looks like some historical reenactment.

  3. 3 DJ

    Hi Karl

    Not sure where the pic is from – it is a laundry scene I think – probaly faked.

    Not really connected to this as far as I know.

    I have heard of the gypsy thing. Didn’t they use a paddle called something like pelew? I heard women under fathers rule until they married.

    Thanks as ever for your feedback.


  4. 4 Maddy


    I do not know about gypsies – but in our part of the world brides to be get spanked before the wedding.

    They know its going to happen and try to avoid it, but the fun is catching them unawares.

    We got my sister good. Funny. Her bottom was very red and all her friends got to see. No boys though.

    My grandma says they used switches in olden times, as a sort of luck thing she said, like in the article. She was spanked too but not switched. She said some of her friends were. Apparently it was a real big deal and they played rough.

    I suppose we still do but without switches.

    I may leave the state when I get married.


  5. 5 Madison

    Where was this Maddy? I mean which state?

    We have a similar thing in Oregon. It has been a long tradition with the women in our family and a few others round about to see the wedding dress. Then there are various traditions, like gifts, flowers, and stories from married folk to the unmarried girls. Also at some point the bride has to get a spanking or maybe the switch. The point is it that has to be whatever the mother would use to punish her daughter normally.

    I was always spanked with a hairbrush at home. So a week before my wedding I got a bare bottom spanking in front of my sisters aunts and cousins. The real deal I might add, I was good and crying once she was through. It was real hard because I was 24 and hadn’t been spanked since I was in college.

    Most of the girls in my family have had to go through this on getting married and usually with a hairbrush. But a friend of mine, I missed it sadly, who have a similar tradition in their family, did get the switch as that was what was used in their house.

    My grandmother knew a lot about this but she is dead now so I can’t ask about all the things she told me. I do remember that she said it may be a Russian thing, as a lot of folks in our neighborhood came from Russia once upon a time. She also said it was to make sure that a girl was serious about getting married.

    My grandmother told me that although she got a spanking with a hairbrush when she got wed, her mother got a real bad switching. That’s why we get the brush she said because her ma had said she wouldn’t be so rough with her kids.

    Anyway I hope this is of interest.

    I really like this blog, mostly for the stories, so I don’t comment usually. So thanks for that Mr Black.

    Madison C.W. Oregon

  6. 6 Tom


    my wife had a similar tradition in her family

    I know she got a hard time at her bachelorette party – she told me about it afterwards – but she wouldn’t thank me for saying anything

    her mother’s idea of discipline put her off spanking our kids and I won’t cos I check out blogs like this

    we are in Norhwest US by the way (not so far from Oregon)


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