Although Prague holds the notorious title we talked about yesterday, they do have a delightful Easter Market open most of April at Old Town Square and Wenceslas Square.
Little wooden huts decorate the squares with all kinds of hand made crafts and souvenirs, as well as delicious food.
First, you have to try a Trdelnik, which we also had in Hungary as a sugar coated pastry, but the Czechs have bumped it up a notch, adding ice cream and chocolate!
Then we were served a huge portion of a large ham roasted on a spit.
We also discovered warm sugar coated pretzels, a favorite of Walden and I!
Then we tried klobása and several potato dishes, one served with bacon and sauerkraut (not a favorite of the kids).
All the children were out for the holiday weekend, having a blast in the bubbles.
We also saw a school folk dancing group in traditional costume perform on a stage at the Old Town Square, but for some reason didn’t get a picture!
The Easter traditions in the Czech Republic are really interesting, so we wanted to share a few from A Prague Experience.
“The Prague Easter markets originate from a time long before the communist era and were deeply tied to religious festivities. Under communism though the markets suffered a demise, as the religious aspects of Easter were banned and celebrations were limited to welcoming in spring.
Since the fall of communism, the markets have enjoyed a renaissance. Czechs and tourists come together there in thousands today,
to browse the colourful market stalls and soak up the atmosphere.
Children finish school on “Ugly Wednesday.” The following day,”Green Thursday,” boys equip themselves with wooden rattles, called “rehtacka”. They then form a group and walk through their local village or town, shaking their rattles vigorously. This, as tradition dictates, scares off Judas. (We actually did see a lot of these switch looking things, especially with the little boys!)
The same walk is repeated on “Good Friday” and then once more on “White Saturday”.
On Saturday, progress is slowed by the boys stopping at every house and shaking their rattles until they receive a present!”
“The greatest symbol of Easter is the egg, with its connections of spring and new life. On Easter Sunday, the girls and women of the village paint eggs (“kraslice”). This is a skilled affair with many variations on the decoration; usually a mixture of watercolours, picture stickers, bee’s wax, straw and/or feathers. (We bought a few in the market).
For particularly well decorated eggs there is even an Easter egg contest held annually in Prague.
As girls paint their Easter eggs, the boys prepare their Easter whips,”pomlázka,”, ready for Easter Monday.
This is not the kind of whip used on horses, but is made from osier twigs, braided together. Once again, this takes some skill to make and the more twigs, the more difficult it is to braid a whip.
Visitors may see examples of these Easter whips in the Prague markets, should they wish to participate!
(we did, but didn’t purchase thinking they definitely wouldn’t be allowed on the plane!)
Easter Monday (which I have never heard of, but is celebrate all over Eastern Europe)
On Easter Monday people get up early. The boys and men set off on a whipping trip through the village.
Boys stop at people’s homes and whip the legs of every girl and woman who live in the house. Small boys are required to recite an Easter carol as they go about their whipping.
As if the whipping is not enough, a popular custom is also to grab the girl and throw her in a bath of cold water, known as an “Easter dousing”. The whipping and dousing is performed to chase away illness and bad spirits. They may not appreciate it at the time, but it is actually good for the girl!
Once all the whipping and dousing is over, the girl, strangely enough, rewards the boy with one of her painted eggs. She then ties a ribbon around his whip and he moves on to the next house.
As the boys progress through the village, their bags fill with eggs and the whips become more and more colourful, with many bright ribbons attached.
For older boys, gifts of eggs and ribbons have latterly given way to offers of shots of alcohol. By the time they arrive home, these young men can be fairly happy!”
Of course, we didn’t see Easter Monday festivities in the city, but we did see a lot of people running around with the Easter whips; and everyone is off of work for Easter Monday.
We really enjoyed or Prague Easter Experience, but must admit we would have rather been at Uncle Larry’s hunting silver dollars with the rest of the family!