Czech Easter traditions from A-Z

Do you know your kraslice from your mazanec? A guide to Easter week in the Czech Republic

This is an update of an article originally published in 2017.

A is for All Week Long: Czech Easter is a nearly week-long celebration that begins on Ugly Wednesday and continues through to the Easter Monday feast with numerous special days in between.

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B is for Brunch: Easter brunch is quickly becoming a tradition in Prague with many hotels and restaurants offering special menus throughout the Easter weekend.

C is for Cantata: In Prague, the Bach Easter Cantata or mass at St. Nicholas cathedral commemorate the religious aspects of the holiday, forgotten under the communist regime when Easter was celebrated only as a rite of spring.

D is for Decorations: Aside from colored eggs and hand-made willow whips, Czechs also adorn trees and bushes with Easter regalia as part of a 19th-century European tradition originating in Germany and Austria.

E is for Eggs: In Moravia, especially, Easter eggs (vejce) are decorated by hand using a variety of stunning techniques including batik and wrapping in a fine decorative wire which have made them world-renowned.

F is for Fertility Rituals: From whipping women to dousing them in water to ensure fertility, this Czech holiday comes with a trigger warning…not for feminists!

Also read:  Czech Republic now reports 1394 coronavirus cases, with two fatalities

G is for Good Friday: In Czech, Velký pátek, was not recognized as a national holiday under the communist regime, but it’s now officially back. Hello, four-day weekend.

H is for this traditional carol, sung by Czech children at Easter: Hody hody doprovody dejte vejce malovany Nedate-li malovany dejte aspon bily však Vam slepička snese jiny. (See what it means here.)

I is for Increased Security: Hard to believe, but in Prague police typically go on high alert for over-zealous party people—yes, Czech Easter is that kind of holiday.

J is for Judas March: A 16-century White Saturday custom, Vodění Jidáše sees one lucky guy get dressed up in a bale of hay and pointy hat, parading through the village followed by legions of children collecting candy.

K is for Kraslice: The most traditional technique for coloring eggs the Czech way, these gloriously hand-painted eggs are synonymous with the holiday.

L is for Lamb: Young meat is a staple of the Czech Easter menu including rabbit and goat. Lamb-shaped cake beránek is served for dessert.

Also read:  Czech Republic reports 1,497 coronavirus cases, second-highest daily rise at 185

M is for Mazanec: This classic Czech yeast bread, baked with an egg wash and sprinkled with almonds, is similar to the hot-cross buns of Easter tradition served elsewhere.

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N is for Nádivka: Easter would not be Easter without this Czech stuffing. Each year in Prague there is a competition devoted to the best one; nettles, spinach, and other herbs are added to symbolize spring rebirth.

O is for Onion Peels: Use them along with other vegetable peelings or dried leaves to decorate eggs in the natural way.

P is for Pomlázka: A willow-branch whip festooned with ribbons that is used in the traditional Czech Easter-whipping custom. Also for pučálky an Easter dish made of peas.

Easter market on Prague's Old Town Square
Easter market on Prague’s Old Town Square

Q is for Question: We aren’t sure about this one, but supposedly on a leap year, women get to whip the men at Easter?

R is for Řehtačka: These rattles are used by schoolchildren to scare off Judas throughout the Holy Week.

S is for Slivovice: The preferred Easter libation, best enjoyed while parading through the village in search of female victims to spank.

Also read:  Second victim of coronavirus claimed in Czech Republic

T is for Trhy: The Easter markets (velikonoční trhy) that dot the Czech capital are pretty much just like the Christmas markets. But with eggs.

U is for Ugly Wednesday: Called Škaredá středa,this is the day Judas betrayed Jesus; and when children are let out of school early to help with preparations.

V is for Velikonoce: The Czech word for Easter derives from “great night” (velká noc) after the day Christ rose from the dead.

Wide selection of easter eggs, traditional souvenirs in the kiosk of street market during celebration of Easter in Central Europe. Compartments full of colourfull eggs. Focus on white egg.

W is for Wearing Red: Red is still the ultimate Easter symbol for many Czechs who wear it to symbolize good health and happiness.

X is for Xaverov: Obscure fact, Xaverov, a Czech village that is the site of one of the largest poultry farms in the world, is, for Czechs of a certain age, synonymous with eggs!

Y is for Yolks Be Gone: Egg are blown out or hollowed before decorating per the Czech tradition.

Z is for Zelený čtvrtek, or Green Thursday: One of the three Holy Days leading up to Easter when only vegetables including an herb-based soup are eaten…and Czechs drink green beer.

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