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A braided pomlázka with ribbons.

Willow refers to a family of trees and shrubs from the genus Salix. They are primarily found on moist soils in cold and temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere. A well-known willow hybrid is the Weeping willow.

Willows have slender, pliant and elastic branches. Stripped from their leaves, these are suitable for wickerwork (e.g. baskets), brooms, and are also sometimes used for spanking implements.

Use for spanking[edit]

They are either used as single willow switches, or a bundle of thin willow rods is bound together in the fashion of a birch, such as the ones used for judicial birching on the Isle of Man. Another technique is to braid a number of rods together — this is found in some European Easter and spanking traditions.

The willow as a chastisement instrument is featured in the British folk song The Bitter Withy.

Willows in Chinese culture is said to be a bane to spirits so during the Qingming Festival some people would carry willow switches to use against unwanted spirits[1]

See also[edit]


  1. Doolittle, Justus: Social Life of the Chinese (ISBN 9780710307538)