The Prague fire service were called out 15 times between Monday evening and
Tuesday morning in connection with the Czech tradition of “witch
burning” bonfires. They had been banned in the capital this year in view
of dry conditions and strong winds and in eight cases the organisers agreed
to fire officers’ calls for them to douse the fires. The other seven
cases were false alarms, a fire service spokesperson said.
Fire fighters did not have to deal with any blazes resulting from unauthorised bonfires getting out of control.
Large public bonfires were called off at a number of places in the capital and people were also told not to light them on their own properties.
Burning witches on April 30-May 1 is an ancient pagan tradition which developed in various European countries including the Czech Republic. People believed witches were especially active on that night and that they flew above people’s heads and later trampled all the crops sown in the fields. That’s the reason why fires were lit with the express aim of burning the witches.
Many musical projects have noteworthy origin stories. But Dálava’s is truly one of a kind. Julia Úlehla and her musical and life partner Aram Bajakian began performing ancient Moravian folk songs – which they hadn’t heard – after happening upon them in a book named Živá píseň (Living Song). It had been compiled in the early 20th century by the former’s great-grandfather Vladimír Úlehla, a remarkable polymath.
The Czech Republic has a rather unusual tradition on Easter Monday. Boys get willow branches, braid them together into whips and decorate them with ribbons to whip girls with for luck and fertility. The word for this whip in Czech is pomlázka, which has also become the name of the tradition itself. To learn more about pomlázka I interviewed three Czechs. The first is a 17 year-old-girl with several brothers, the second is an active feminist and the third is an expert on Czech folklore.
Easter celebrations in the Czech Republic, which combine both Christian traditions and ancient pagan customs, are today mostly associated with painting eggs, whipping girls as well as eating loads of chocolates. But for dancer Antonie Svobodová, this time of year symbolizes a deep connection with the Earth. For more than 20 years, she has been marking the return of Spring by a ritual dance, based on age-old pagan rituals:
Although the Czech Republic is one of the most secular countries in Europe, Easter is observed in most homes around the country. True, most families observe the old Easter traditions that have largely pagan roots, but many people appreciate the message of Easter as one of reflection and forgiveness. And even though Czechs are among the least enthusiastic churchgoers in Europe, Easter mass is always a special occasion. Vít Pohanka visited the Evangelical Church of Czech Brethren to find out how Protestants celebrate Easter in the Czech Republic.
Concrete barriers have gone up in parts of the Czech capital to boost
security at sites holding Easter markets. Barriers preventing entry by
trucks or vans, which could potentially be used in terrorist attacks, went
up at the start of Opletalova Street.
Barriers have already been up long-term on Prague’s Old Town Square.
Compulsory lessons in metalwork and other crafts are set to return to Czech
elementary schools, iRozhlas.cz reported on Wednesday. “Practical
studies” should make a comeback to school curriculums within two years
after agreement was reached between the prime minister in resignation,
Andrej Babiš, and representatives of trades organisations, the news
Mr. Babiš said the lack of apprentices in the Czech Republic was a major problem for the economy, which is facing a labour shortage, and that his ANO party had long been in favour of dual education, which combines class work and on-the-job training.
Masopust celebrations have been held in various parts of Prague. The annual
carnival in which many people dress up in masks and costumes was marked on
Saturday in districts including Letná and Karlín. Next week the Mardi
Gras-like celebrations will take place in Malá Strana, Žižkov and other
parts of the city.
Masopust has traditionally occurred between the Epiphany (January 6) and Ash Wednesday, when the pre-Easter Lenten period begins.
During the Christmas period and the New Year, the Czech capital attracts hundreds of thousands many of whom want to experience classic Prague over the holidays: mulled wine, romantic walks and more. The same is being appreciated this year, of course, but Prague City Tourism is also putting an emphasis on new hip districts with new eateries, cafes, galleries and other sites people also might want to visit.