Easter in the Czech Republic
Traditions Field Note
Easter is one of the most important holidays in the Czech Republic, and there are many fun and interesting traditions involved. I had the wonderful opportunity to be in the Czech Republic during Easter and experience the traditions in different areas of the country.
Easter is a very exciting time in the Czech Republic. You can see children dancing in front of constructed stages in the city center. The streets are alive with vendors selling delicious sweets and meats. There are also many special handicrafts available at Easter time. The most important crafts are the painted eggs.
What tradition did I learn about?
During the festival, I tried many kinds of holiday food. One of my favorites was trdelník, which is a Hungarian sweet bread smothered in cinnamon and sugar and rotated on a fire. Doesn’t that sound delicious?
There are also many special handicrafts available at Easter time. Most importantly of these are painted eggs. I had never seen so many elaborately painted Easter eggs! I was surprised that they were hollow inside and I worried that I would break them. These eggs are decorated using many different methods.
I had the opportunity to visit a two hundred year-old farmhouse in the small village of Piletice and see how some Easter handicrafts are made. I even got to paint an egg myself with wax from melted crayons. Does your family paint eggs for Easter? When I explained to my European friends that my family hard-boils the eggs and then we dye them, they were so surprised.
On Easter Monday, boys go to girls’ houses with fancy sticks made out of willow sticks and ribbon. When the girls answer the door, the boys tag the girls with these sticks and in return the girls offer decorated eggs or chocolate. This act is supposed to bring good health and beauty to the girls for the year and chase away bad spirits. One Czech friend told me that this tradition is getting less popular in bigger cities but is still common in the smaller towns.
Why does the community have this tradition?
The tradition of boys tagging girls with the decorated sticks is from old folk and pagan religious traditions. Often, this is more practiced in smaller towns because it is connected to the community and gives people a feeling of belonging. This tradition also stems from superstition, so participating in traditions like these allows families a feeling of comfort and protection. Now, Easter festivities are less based on superstition but more on following tradition and having a good time.
Is this tradition connected to its environment? How?
Although Easter is a religious holiday, the Czech Republic has one of the least religious populations of Europe. Because of this, Easter is celebrated more for cultural and traditional purposes than religious ones.
Easter also celebrates the coming of spring. The weather usually starts warming up around Easter time, and people participate in festivals or other outdoor activities to celebrate. This year was one of the coldest winters in Europe’s history, so it was still snowing around Easter. This slightly altered the atmosphere and celebrations, but people were still excited to enjoy the holiday outside, even in the snow.
The way Easter is celebrated differs depending on the town community and environment. Many towns have Easter markets, and what is sold in the markets depends on the size and tourism in the town. For example, when I visited the Easter market in the capital of Prague, there were many touristy souvenirs available in the Easter market. What do you think the difference is between tourist souvenirs and traditional objects?
In Cesky Krumlov, a small medieval town, the Easter market had small handicrafts, cheeses, and snacks. Smaller villages may have a community celebration or small festival. Does your hometown have any special events for Easter?