Experience Czech Easter

24.02.2019 | 20:59
Experience Czech Easter

For Christians, Easter is the most important holiday of the year, but the tradition of many folk customs is older – pre-Christian. The celebration falls into the period of the spring equinox, therefore, the beginning of the growing season, an important period for the life of village people.

We can observe two parts in folk spring and Easter customs: one part that follows pre-Christian conceptions of natural or prosperous magic and another infl uenced by the Christian liturgy. Easter was preceded by a forty-day fast; in the past mostly adults were supposed to abide by it. It begins with Ash Wednesday (Popeleční středa), which comes after Carnival Tuesday (Masopustní úterý). The period of fasting was divided by Sundays, and pre-Christian customs again. The six-week fasting ended on Easter Sunday. In the morning, people went to morning service, where the housewife usually had some of the dishes – eggs and Easter bread – blessed. Upon returning from the church, the family sat down with servants for a ceremonial lunch. The farmer started the lunch by dividing the eggs into the number of pieces equal to the number of people at the table. Everyone ate their piece and believed that they would keep their health and always fi nd their way home from wherever they were in the world. The festive lunch was made of yeast pastry – Easter bread served with honey (for health and strength). An omelette was also cooked, in the Hlinecko region it was called a little head (hlavička), and veal and kid goat meat were added to it together with spring herbs. The long period of fasting and the ceremonial celebration of Easter Sunday was followed by Easter Monday when, from early in the morning, boys and young men went around houses with braided whips and whipped girls and housewives, and were rewarded with eggs or painted Easter eggs. The braided whip of fresh twigs was a symbol of a life-giving force. An Easter Monday carol closed the holiday season. People returned to everyday duties and a new farm year began. You can learn more about the traditional Easter celebrations in the Czech Republic in the Open-air Museum Vysočina.

www.vesely-kopec.eu  www.betlem-hlinsko.cz

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