Even the Sundays leading up to Easter - Passion Sunday and Palm Sunday - have always been particularly rich in spring customs. In fact, it is with them that we associate the most important of such traditions: the symbolic banishment of winter and the ushering in of summer. The former is particularly interesting. Winter was symbolised by a straw figure dressed in female clothing and known as Morena, Smr» (Death) or Kyselica. The young would parade it, singing the while, around the village, before finally throwing it into water, or burning it. It was a custom practised not only all over Slovakia, but among Slavs generally. It is probably the only ancient ritual which can be said with virtual certainty to have survived from before the Christian period.
Easter itself is the occasion for numerous ceremonies and customs. Depending on the area of Slovakia, on Easter Monday girls may be either thrashed with willow switches, or doused in - or sprinkled with - water, or possibly both. These are among the happiest and most popular traditions - particularly among the young - and still survive in modified form.