Sunday, April 13, 2014

Prague Easter

We're on our way back to Boston, traveling through Prague because we got a good deal from British Airways. We wanted to see the Christmas markets here on our way to Minsk, but had no idea we'd enjoy a parallel experience of Easter markets in Prague now.

We discovered the party on our way to the Charles Bridge. Walking into Old Town Square, we recognized the stage and stalls from Christmas. The pine tree had disappeared, however, replaced by a big birch with eggs and ribbons hanging from it. As before, lots of revelers hung out eating and drinking, but now they drank beer instead of hot wine. We got pretty excited about bookending our trip with these pseudo-Christian celebrations.

Alla found a magazine article explaining that under communist suppression of religion, a spring celebration arose to take the place of Easter. Now that people are free to celebrate everything, the combined holiday looks pretty unique. Men flog their women with decorated birch whips to ensure their fertility and happiness for the coming year. Women respond the next day by pouring buckets of water over their men, perhaps to symbolize that they are all wet. Women, we are told, actually buy these whips for their husbands. Alla omitted this opportunity, but we did see a woman on a tramway bringing one home.

We plan to attend vespers at Saint Vitus' Cathedral this evening. I'll let you know in the comments below if they feature any birch boughs for Palm Sunday.

Most of our time here we've done more conventional stuff, like walking around and visiting churches, museums and other touristy places. We often talked about taking a tour of the fabulously-art-nouveau Municipal House, but only did it yesterday. Wow, that was worthwhile. Every room blew our minds. It would be hard not to have a good time in Prague, and I'm happy to be here.

1 comment:

  1. There were no birch boughs at the church service. Only palm branches.

    Also, for those who didn't grow up in the USA, "all wet" means grossly mistaken or full of nonsense.

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