Easter is a very important Christian holiday, and in Prague it is celebrated very much in that spirit. It is also a holiday time when families travel and get together. While walking Prague’s paved streets you will notice market stalls and flower decorations, Easter eggs smiling from shop windows … it will make you feel that perhaps Prague’s Easter holidays have become very commercialised. At the same time, however, a number of popular customs and traditions pervade. Among the most characteristic is the pussy willow “pomlázka” on Easter Monday. In this tradition, boys and men visit their classmates, girl friends and neighbours to symbolically lash them with switches braided into a so-called “pomlázka”. In certain regions, local girls are splashed with cold water rather than whipped. Though this tradition is typically enjoyed more by men, women do not entirely resist: after all, it is supposed to bring them beauty and vivacity for the whole of the next year. This explains why they even reward their assailants with coloured eggs, sweets and refreshments! In villages, the custom of walking around the neighbourhood with rattles and clappers has remained to this day. These noisemakers, rather than bells, are used to call worshippers to church, as from Holy Thursday to Holy Saturday the bells fall silent in token of the mourning for Christ’s martyrdom.
Easter is also a good time to try some local specialities. Try the “lamb” sponge-cake with sugar or chocolate frosting, sweet buns from yeast dough, Easter gingerbread cookies, Easter dressing with young nettles, spring vegetable soup, sweet rolls (“jidáše”, or Judas rolls) glazed with honey, or crunchy fried “God’s graces” coated in powdered sugar.
If you are ever planning a trip to the Czech Republic, we would highly recommend Easter as the time to visit. … Veselé Velikonoce! (Happy Easter!)