Celebrate the coming of spring in the Czech Republic!
Prague, March 2011 Say goodbye to winter and welcome the coming of spring in the Czech Republic. The varied programme of Easter festivals will help you to chase away that spring fatigue. Traditional fairs at castles and chateaux will take you hundreds of years back in time. Special Easter packages for stays in Czech spas will provide you with an energy boost for the whole year and festive Easter dishes will widen your gastronomic horizons.
Traditional fairs and markets in the squares of large cities and small towns are an integral part of Easter in the Czech Republic. From 9 April until the first of May, you can try out Easter delicacies on the Old Town Square in Prague (www.praguewelcome.cz). There will be painted eggs, rattles, plaited whips and lamb-shaped sponge cakes to see and buy here. You will also be able to enjoy a breath of spring at the Easter fair in the Southern Moravian town of Znojmo (17.4. – 27.4. www.znojmocity.cz). Some great wines and delicacies to go with them can also be tasted in this wine-growing region. You can also visit the Silesian city of Opava with its two-week exhibition of traditional handicrafts (12.4. – 27.4. www.infocentrum.opava.cz) and there will also be an accompanying programme there. The Mělník (www.muzeum-melnik.cz) regional museum has also prepared an exhibition of traditional handicrafts. You can also experience the Easter atmosphere on 16 April at the Welcoming of the spring festivals in Telč (www.telc-etc.cz), a picturesque small town on the UNESCO monument list.
Easter in castle and chateaux style
Spring festivals are also celebrated at castles and chateaux. An entertainment programme will often take you back to times long past. Princely Easter will be celebrated at Křivoklát castle from 23 until 25 April (www.krivoklat.cz). This is to say that a princely family will be opening the celebrations there. You can look forward to jugglers, concerts and theatre performances. A fair and varied accompanying programme with theatre and music has also been prepared for you at the Central Bohemian Veltrusy Chateau (www.zamek-veltrusy.cz). Celebrations will be held here on 16 April. Entertainment also awaits you at the Silesian Ostrava Castle in the city of Ostrava on 16 and 17 April (www.cerna-louka.cz). The traditional two-day folk fair with displays of handicrafts is complemented by demonstrations of folk dancing and music. There will also be a competition to find the prettiest Easter egg as well as authentic delicacies from a pig-killing.
Easter in EDEN
Easter markets are also held every year in one of the most impressive Czech castles - Pernštejn standing above the Bystřice stream. The Bystřice region last year won the prestigious European Commission title EDEN (European Destination of Excellence). This year’s candidates, which are taking part in the EDEN competition, offer a range of non-traditional ideas for spending Easter. The narrow-gauge railway in Jindřichův Hradec (www.jhmd.cz) will be operating a special Easter train on 23 April, a festive spring steam train with accompanying programme, lots of competitions and an Easter Bunny. The picturesque countryside of Bohemian Canada will most certainly enthral even adults. In Březové Hory in the Příbram region (www.muzeum-pribram.cz) you can, for a change, see how miners celebrated Easter. Apart from Easter markets, spring gastronomic specialities also await you in the newly renovated Temple of Hops and Beer in Žatec (www.chchp.cz).
Easter spa pampering
After the long winter, we all need to recharge our batteries and invigorate our body and mind. The best solution is a visit to one of the 37 spa destinations to be found in the Czech Republic. A special Easter package has for example been prepared for you by the Velké Losiny Thermal spa (www.lazne-losiny.cz). After undergoing spa procedures, you can enjoy a dish from the Easter menu and Easter entertainment with live music is planned for the evening. The Central Bohemian Lázně Poděbrady (www.lazne-podebrady.cz) offers its visitors a relaxation and Easter cultural programme and of course spa procedures too. Easter stays have also for example been prepared for guests by the West Bohemian Mariánské Lázně (www.marianskelazne.cz), Františkovy Lázně (www.franzensbad.cz) or Lázně Libverda (www.lazne-libverda.cz) in the Jizera Mountains.
The Czech Republic and Easter traditions
The most important Christian festivals are linked with many folk customs and traditions in the Czech Republic. Other than painted Easter eggs, the plaited whip is also a symbol of Czech Easter, plaited from sticks of willow and decorated with ribbons. Boys and even grown men can be seen on Easter Monday carolling and symbolically whipping girls and women with their whips. The women then reward them with painted eggs. In certain regions however, brave girls get their revenge by pouring buckets of cold water over the boys’ heads. According to folk tradition however, whipping is supposed to impart beauty and vitality to the woman for the whole year. The custom of rattles is still upheld in certain regions. Boys go from door to door in the villages from Thursday to Saturday making a noise with their rattles, thus calling believers to the churches instead of the bells, which have flown away to Rome.
Czech Easter would not be the same without special treats and delicacies created on the occasion of precisely these holidays. After the Lent period, a true time of abundance arrives. Typical Easter dishes include nettle stuffing, sweet bread from leavened dough or lamb-shaped cake with sugary or chocolate icing. Sweet rolls (“jidáše”, or Judas rolls) spread with honey and fried mini dough cakes coated in powdered sugar. Most restaurants will be serving an Easter menu during the Easter holidays.
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