Easter or "Velikonoce" in Czech, originates from the words "velka noc", which translate to "the big night". Interestingly enough, since religious celebrations were forbidden during Communism, the arrival of spring was the one celebrated instead of Easter. Today, Easter is a more common holiday, however it is not as abundantly celebrated compared to other Christian countries.
Different countries have different cultures and traditions; one of these unique traditions can be found in Czechia on Easter Monday. A typical Czech Easter custom is for boys to collect branches and create whips out of them, which are later decorated with colourful ribbons. The tradition is that boys then (gently!) whip girls for luck and better fertility. This tradition is called pomlazka, which is also the name for the decorated whip. It might sound like a very harsh and sexist tradition, however the tradition goes back to the Middle Ages. Women also comply with it, because they believe it brings them luck throughout the year, as well as good health.
Traditionally women prepare and paint the eggs, while men make the pomlazka whips. On Easter Monday, men chase the women and gently whip them, while singing a song. In return, women give them decorated eggs (kraslice), which are usually hung with a string on windows or placed into Easter baskets. Typical foods consumed in Czechia during Eastertime are lamb, eggs, gingerbread, chocolate Easter bunnies, candy and most importantly plum brandy, known as Slivovice.
Fun fact: typically eggs in Czechia are coloured in red, and a lot of red is worn during the Easter weekend; red symbolises health and a new life, that comes along with Spring.
Eastertime in different areas of Czechia
Visit East Moravia and experience a typical Czech folk Easter in an open-air museum, located in Roznov pod Radhostem. You can try the most traditional local food, and see the arts and crafts, including pomlazka, which are made for the Easter holiday. This is a really fun experience and a great cultural trip.
Wallachian Open Air Museum756 61 Rožnov pod Radhoštěm, Czechia
Another exciting experience would be going to the Hlinsko Bethlehem open-air museum, located in East Bohemia. You will be impressed by the number of houses, which are traditionally decorated during the Easter period, as well as by the traditional folk costumes, which will make you feel like you have travelled back in time.
Bethlehem Hlinsko open-air museumČelakovského, 539 01 Hlinsko, Czechia
If you plan to visit Prague during Easter, stay assured that there will be plenty to do and see. One of the biggest markets is held on Old Town Square, which also includes, traditional Easter food (eggs and sweets), arts, crafts, traditional costumes and a fun atmosphere with lots of entertainment.
Old town squareOld Town Square, Staroměstské nám., 110 00 Praha 1-Staré Město, Czechia
The Ethnographic Museum, as part of the Prague National Museum, hosts a permanent exhibition on traditional folk culture and amongst its many items, it also includes Easter traditional art-crafts, such as painted eggs and whips that are used on Easter Monday. This exhibition is very picturesque and contains traditional costumes that are used during the carnival period. I highly recommended visiting the Museum to get a real taste of this Czech festive period, starting from carnival and going all the way until Easter.
National Museum of PragueVáclavské nám. 1700/68, Nové Město, 110 00 Praha-Praha 1, Czechia
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