In the Czech Republic, Christians celebrating the resurrection of Jesus are in the minority. Nevertheless, Easter remains an important spring holiday related to many traditions. Although the magic of Easter slowly fades away in cities, in villages, you will still see decorated houses and groups of carollers with osier sticks – whips plaited from fresh willow branches.
Easter decorations in spring colours
Easter is the herald of spring: the nature is waking up and the country is full of lively colours. More and more sunny days make us want to be as close to this beauty as possible. People decorate their houses with blown eggs, wreaths, fresh-cut and pot flowers or young tree branches of trees, such as willow catkins or laburnum. Symbols of fertility and the beginning of a new year cycle can be seen on doors, in windows or on dining tables.
Painting and decorating eggs
Egg decorating ranks among the most observed Czech traditions. Easter eggs are painted or blown out, and used for decoration or given to carollers. To decorate the eggs, you can use many various techniques, and every household prefers a different one.
Natural dyeing is very popular – onion skins give the eggs a rusty brown colour, beet colours them red, curry transforms them into yellow stones, and so on. Before you dye the eggs, you can decorate them with picked leaves and flowers to create beautiful imprints of the nature on the eggshells. More advanced decorators can even use molten vax (and pins stuck in pencils and warm wax crayons as tools). Hatched patterns look great on the eggs.
Easter carols with osier sticks
In cities, the tradition of plaited osier sticks is not very common anymore, but in villages, you can experience great turmoil on Easter Monday. Boys and men go from door to door with their osier sticks and sing Easter carols till the noon. Osier sticks of all sizes are plaited from fresh willow branches and decorated with colourful ribbons.
According to a legend, women are whipped to keep their health, beauty and fertility during the whole next year. Then they reward the carollers with more ribbons for their osier sticks, decorated eggs, sweets or something to drink.
The Easter table: stuffing and Easter cakes
It goes without saying that eggs, in whatever form, are favourite food at Easter – hard-boiled eggs are eaten on bread or in spreads. The Czechs also like meaty stuffing with fresh-picked nettles or other green herbs. Sweet dishes include Easter cross buns or Easter lamb-shaped cakes (with raisins or nuts) which can serve as decorations.
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