Easter traditions from the Czech Republic are very original and joyful. Do you want to know why girls get whipped on Easter Monday and why they give out beautifully decorated eggs as a thank-you? What kind of baked goods are made for Easter in the Czech Republic. Then dive in with me and check out how do we Czech people celebrate Easter.
I have always been told, that my stories about Czech Easter traditions, are the most joyful and interesting to hear. So I have decided to share all these joyful traditions with you as well. Specific interest is in this special tradition on Easter Monday, where men “symbolically” spank women with a special handmade whip called a “pomlázka” (in Czech language).
And this is where I get the “what?” question and perplex face expression of misunderstanding. The spanking is only symbolic tradition (nobody gets hurt or injured) and a lot of meanings and tradition behind it. I will explain later what this all means. But first I would like to start by saying what EASTER means to me and how we celebrate it in my home.
EASTER IN CZECH REPUBLIC
For most people in Czech, Easter is a beginning of spring and new beginnings. But everybody knows, that it is also the most important Christian holiday and there are many customs associated with it. Many of the non Christians Czech people still do follow these customs as well.
One of the most symbolic Easter object is the egg. Eggs are traditionally decorated or coloured by girls in the family. Grandmothers, mothers and daughters gets together and decorate eggs, so they could give them out on Easter Monday. Most of the time eggs are hard-boiled prior decoration and colouring. But in some regions only eggs shells are decorated. This technique is called waxing. Wax is used to decorate with images symbolizing the nature. You can see the picture above.
I love using this simple technique of cooking eggs in onion peels or dark tea (all with natural dyes). This is the oldest technique of decorating the eggs. If the nature allows, I take the first sprouts of grass or herbs (sometimes small flowers) and place them on the cleaned egg. Then I cover it with old pantyhose, cut in small pieces (so it would cover the eggs) and tie the ends with thread. Then I place in a big enough deep pan, filled with water and peels from onion. If I don’t have enough of peels from onion I add four tea bags of dark tea. And then I simply boil the eggs for 10 minutes.
What do we cook and bake for Easter
Easter is the second biggest Holiday and most of the traditions are reflected in baking. There is many different food that is baked and cooked on this special occasion. Most famous are “Jidáše” or Judas buns. Why do we call these buns “Jidáše” or Judas buns? Because of the way, how these buns are shaped and when they are baked. The small strings/ropes of dough represent the treacherous Juda’s rope. In the old times people were saying, that Judas had hanged himself, because he couldn’t take the shame of the bad act of betraying Jesus and his people.
We bake these on “Ugly Wednesday” and eat them only the next day for breakfast, thus on Thursday. The recipe for these sweet brioche buns Jidáše is here. Each day has its own meaning, and we bake or cook a different meal accordingly. So I will continue explaining the Easter food and traditions together, below by the order of days coming in the Easter week.
Ugly or Chimney Wednesday, reminds of Judas’ betrayal, also called bad deed day. Chimney Wednesday is called, because that day, soot was swept from the chimney. Although this day is a cleaning day (housework), we should not frown or be annoyed by the fact of cleaning the house. According to a folk superstition, if you frown on Ugly Wednesday, you will be annoyed every Wednesday for the rest of the year. And you surely don’t want to, so smile!
GREEN (HOLLY) THURSDAY
Green Thursday, which refers to Holy Thursday in English is a day, when we should eat healthy food, particularly leafy greens. But for breakfast we eat Jidáše, sweet buns. In my family, for lunch or supper, we prepare creamy spinach, with bread dumplings or potatoes and eggs (hard-boiled or sunny side up). Some people eat salads, green pea soups, cabbage soup.
At the evening of Holly Thursday, Christians commemorate the Last Supper of the Lord, on which Jesus ordained Holy Communion. At the evening, the holy bells departs for Rome and all the churches remain silent until White Saturday.
Good Friday is mostly Christian holiday commemorating the crucifixion of Jesus and his death at Calvary. As a child, I remember we couldn’t eat meat on Good Friday. It was a meatless Friday for us and my mom used to prepare simple cream of wheat with honey or a slice of bread with butter. Some people fast the whole day. We used to go to the church in the afternoon, and it was a very long quiet mass for us. As children, we tried to keep us entertained by running in the hallways of the church, which always got us into the trouble. These are the greatest memory, as we gathered as a family.
Spend the day in the nature
Usually people in the Czech Republic are going a lot into the nature, looking for the first flowers and greens to use for colouring the Easter eggs for the following Monday. Folk superstitions say also, that on Good Friday the treasures in the rocks and the memorable “Mount Blaník” will open, and you can carry as much of the gold and silver as you can. In the past, it was also believed that water from mountain springs turned into the wine.
Another tradition on Good Friday is, that every boy in the village equips himself with a wooden rattle (řehtačka). The boys then form a group and walk through the village, rattling their rattles vigorously, so the noise can be heard from far away. The meaning of this rattling is, to chase away Judas and to drive impure forces out of the houses and buildings.
WHITE SATURDAY & SUNDAY (Easter Saturday & Sunday)
Easter Saturday is a day of preparations for Easter Monday. Girls paint, colour and decorate eggs and boys prepare their pomlázkas! Those famous handmade whips made out of young branches of a tree, which will be used on Easter Monday.
In my family, decorating Easter eggs is one of the most joyful activities for Easter. We hard-boil eggs, previously covered with greens or flowers and wrapped in old pantyhose. Then we boil it for 10 minutes in water filled with onion peels (a lot of onion peels) or black tea bags to get darker brown colours on the eggs.
For Christians White (Easter) Saturday is also the Day of Resurrection of Jesus Christ. On White Saturday there is big silence in churches and no mass celebration. Christians mourn Jesus Christ lying in the grave. At night the bells return from Rome, where they departed for Green Thursday.
On Sunday, lots of Easter dishes are cooked. These are some examples of Sunday Easter dishes, which are prepared in the Czech Republic:
Savoury recipes for Czech Easter
- CREAMY RABBIT STEW WITH WHITE WINE & TOMATO SAUCE
- ROASTED DUCK WITH BREAD DUMPLINGS
- CZECH ROAST PORK WITH SAUERKRAUT & DUMPLINGS
- CZECH SPECIALTY – ROASTED BEEF WITH CREAM VEGETABLE SAUCE & DUMPLINGS (SVICKOVA)
Sweet treats can’t miss, it’s part of a Czech Easter traditions. Housewife bakes sweet bread called mazanec, puff pastry rolls filled with whipped cream, choux pastries filled with buttercream and holy sweet lamb (bundt cake in a form of lamb). And whoever tasted this holy sweet lamb, that day found a lost path in the woods.
Sweet recipes for Czech Easter
- MINI KUGLOF ALSATIAN BRIOCHE RECIPE
- MINI EASTER TARTS WITH CHEESECAKE FILLING
- SWEET BRIOCHE BUNS JIDASE
- EASTER BUNNY FRENCH MADELEINES
- BAKED DONUTS RECIPE
EASTER MONDAY WITH “POMLÁZKA”
Easter Monday is the highlight of the whole Czech Easter traditions. On Easter Monday, men and boys wake up very early in the morning and visits their girl-friends and female relatives to whip or spank them symbolically with the “pomlázka”. This freshly made “pomlázka” (whip made out of young willow branches) is supposed to keep ladies fresh, beautiful and healthy. According to one interpretation, the pomlázka as presented as a symbol of the fertility. This fact is also proven, by the act, that women thanks to the men, with giving them coloured eggs, after symbolic spanking with the pomlázka.
These days girls and women still give coloured hard-boiled eggs as a thank you, but some just simple buy chocolate eggs or offer a shot of alcohol to warm the lads up. In some regions, ladies gives out colourful ribbons, as a way of thank you for not forgetting to visit them.
DIFFERENT REGIONS, DIFFERENT CUSTOMS
The pomlázka is undoubtedly one of the main symbols of Easter holidays. Traditions in certain regions (especially in Slovakia and South Moravia) may also include watering, the so-called smigrus. In some places lads water women, others ladies man.
I remember, that my cousins also sprayed us with perfume instead of using water, and you can imagine how one house with few girls must have smelled after many friends (boys) passing by 🙂
Since I moved to Canada, we still keep all the traditions, including the Easter Monday. For kids, we added Canadian tradition for Easter Egg Hunt, which is so much fun, but sometimes challenging with the snow being here until late April.
So here it is my Czech Easter traditions in my family, how do we celebrate Easter holidays and how we try to keep all this beautiful customs and traditions live in our family.
Now I would have love to hear your traditions for Easter. If you feel like sharing some stories or traditions with me, don’t hesitate and post it in the comments. I am so looking forward hearing from you.
I am wishing you the most beautiful Easter holiday, enjoy it with your family!