It doesn’t matter where you go in the world. Different countries celebrate holidays in different ways. There will be different customs, traditions, and a lot of the time different names for the holiday that is approaching. The world is becoming more globalized so a lot of different countries usually recognize the same core holidays wherever you happen to be. The next holiday that is coming around the corner is Easter, or as it is called in Czech, Velikonoce.
Easter is one of those days that I feel indifferent about. I know the story behind how and why people celebrate Easter, but it is so closely tied to religion that it’s never been a holiday I really do anything for. Luckily, I am in the Czech Republic! I have read up on how the Czech people celebrate Easter and the first thing I saw while researching was, ‘not a serious religious holiday, it’s fun’. Yes!! I knew I liked this country. The more I read, the more I liked what I saw. The traditions of Easter mostly relate to Spring. There are similarities to how I’ve always seen Easter being celebrated. Girls and women still decorate eggs, and they have some really great designs on them. Now, here is where it gets good. There are these sticks called pomlazka. Men and boys braid pussywillow twigs and decorate them. On Easter Monday the boys and men go around town whipping girls and women on the legs with these sticks. The whipping is supposed to chase away illness and bad spirits and bring health and youth to anyone who is whipped. After the whipping, the girls and women give the boys and men a decorated egg, money, or a shot of Slivovice (plum wine). I haven’t actually been here to see or experience this tradition, but I have read that some women cringe at the thought of Easter from some of the lashings they have received.
As far as food goes, real lamb was a traditional meal for Easter, but some people choose to serve a chocolate or sugar covered cake in the shape of a lamb instead. I’ve seen them sitting on the shelves in the store and they look delicious. If you are going to be in Prague for Easter this year Old Town Square has some festivities going on. There will be places to decorate eggs in the city center and/or plait your own pomlazka. These items will also be available to buy along with Easter bread. If you celebrate the religious side of Easter, St. Vitus Cathedral over in Mala Strana will have mass on Easter day.
I am looking forward to see how the day will pan out. I have always been a rule breaker, so instead of being one of the women who takes the whipping and hands out eggs, money, and shots to the man whipping me, I will be buying my own pomlazka and whipping him right back.
However you choose to celebrate this year, take care and happy whipping!