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Veselé Velikonoce

21 March 2008

What is better after a long weekend in Holland than to come back to a 5ish day weekend in Prague? These Czechs are certainly keen on celebrating their Easter and I am happy to take part of a tradition that gives me free days from my tiresome work schedule.

Once again the huts are brought out in the town squares to sell yummy foods, Praguish souvenirs, and Easter decor.

Velikonoce (Easter) in Prague lost much of the religious significance during the 40years of communist rule and today is more associated with welcoming Spring. It seems this holiday is geared more towards children as the traditions start on Wednesday night.

I have heard so many stories of Easter from my students so I will give you a quick run down of how I understand this holiday takes place:

On Wednesday-Saturday girls work on preparing and coloring Easter eggs while the boys, are busy running around town with some sort of rattle annoying the bejesus out of everyone (said to symbolize chasing away Judas) and collecting pussy willow branches to construct an Easter ‘whip’ known as the pomlázka.

Sunday is the last minute preparation of eggs, pomlázka, and food. And, Monday is the true celebration. The boys run around town reciting a carol and-can you believe this– literally whip the girls with their pomlázka. The girls then –can you believe this?thank the boys by giving them a colored Easter egg they worked so hard on decorating (as they boys turn old, the eggs turn into shots– naturally).

It is said that to be hit with a pomlázka guarantees youth, beauty, and happiness in this year. And, as many of my students told me, it ensures that a woman will not go “dry.” I have also heard that the women can go around dousing the men with water in return to being whipped and that every Leap Year the girls get to beat the boys with the whip. Equality for all!

Sadly, I was told this only happens anymore in the villages and not in Prague so I am not sure I will get to witness this. Everyone of my female students shared their disdain for this holiday with me while the adult males seemed to smile in reverie about how much fun they had chasing girls and whipping them.

Sounds a little S&Mish, but it is a tradition that is celebrated throughout much of Central-Eastern Europe including Hungary, Poland, and Germany.

And, that is a Czech Easter as I understand it.  Perhaps some things lost in translation, but hey, you get the gist of it.

Veselé Velikonoce!!


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