Category Archives: Czech heritage

Czech Harvest Festival

Summer  brings  heritage festivals and fairs

By Emma Palova

EW Emma’s Writings

Lowell, MI  -I am really looking forward to this weekend. First of all, it’s going to be hot again, and I love that.

Contrary to what the promoters of “Back to School” pump out, summer is not over. For me summer is over when I have to swap my flip-flops for closed-toed shoes, usually with the first snow.

Summer always stays in my heart year-long.

Other than my author event at the LowellArts gallery tomorrow from 1 to 3 p.m. during the Captured photo exhibit, I can’t wait to go to the Czech Harvest Festival “Dozinky” in Bannister this Sunday.

This is our annual treat and a tribute to our Czech heritage. Every year, I get my hopes high that I will run into a Czech-speaking person at the festival in the middle of nowhere.

Over the years of going to Bannister, I’ve met probably a total of eight people who knew some Czech. The fun part about this event is that I get to sing three anthems that I know: American, Czech & Slovak.

The third-generation organizers Tom & Diane Bradley of Czech origin have done a fantastic job of preserving the “Dozinky” event as it truly happens in the Moravian and Slovakian villages in the old country. The dancers wear original costumes, the band of accordions plays Czech polka and the singers sing Czech songs.

I marvel at this effort, because the festival passes the Czech heritage onto the younger generation. The dance troupe involves kids ages three to unlimited. The festivities open with the shortest parade in the world; it’s even shorter than the parade in Hubbardston on St. Pat’s Day.

The parade route is past the ZCBJ Lodge to the small field with a concrete platform for the dancers. The dancers and singers march in the parade with rakes and scythes, symbolizing the original harvest of wheat.

Usually, a polka band plays inside the hall after the dance troupe is done outside. I’ve never been to that part, because it runs later in the afternoon when we have to head back home for a long drive through the fields.

The best part of the event is the original Czech food. For ten bucks, you get to eat like in a fancy Czech restaurant without leaving USA. The buffet features, ham, chicken, dumplings, sauerkraut, cucumber salad, mashed potatoes, biscuits and a dessert.

Czech “kolache”

However, one thing you will not get here, is the traditional Czech “kolache” pastry. One of the editors of the Fraternity Herald asked me to share the origins of this festive pastry.

So, I asked my mother Ella, while she was still in Venice. Growing up in Moravian small town of Vizovice, she could trace the humble origins to the villagers.

“They used all the ingredients available to them in their households,” she said. “This included the cottage cheese they made themselves, butter or lard and eggs. The only thing they bought was sugar and flour. They had everything else including the plum butter.”

The popularity of “kolache” as a signature pastry at all events and festivities, skyrocketed over the years, as the city folks discovered them while touring villages.

“Kolaches” are to Czechs what pizza is to the Italians,” mom said. “They too use the ingredients available to them; olives, pasta sauce and such.”

There are hundreds of recipes for traditional “kolache” varying according to the region.

However, they all have in common the following: golden crust topped with plum butter with sugary crumbling and filled with cottage cheese mixed with raisins.

For one of the many kolache recipes visit the

Mazac Family Genealogy blog:

https://mazacgenalogy.wordpress.com/2012/12/04/czech-moravian-kolache-recipe/

Copyright (c) 2018. Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

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Born on May 9th with excerpts

Birthday and freeing of Prague

Excerpts from  memoir Greenwich Meridian: Where East meets West

The Tide of immigration from former Czechoslovakia started in 1968 with the Soviet army occupation.  A massive exodus followed in protest of the action by the Soviet Union government. My father  professor Vaclav Konecny was part of the movement.

As I continue to write the memoir in May, I will start with its festivities .The month of May was very poetic and romantic. With the entire country in blossom, the major holidays included Mayday and Freedom Day on May 9th when the Russians freed Prague from the Nazi occupation. in 1945. The new regime moved the national holiday to May 8th, when the American army reached the famous beer town of Pilsner in Western Bohemia.

May also serves as athe stage for the biggest music event of the year, the Prague Spring International Music Festival, started by president Edward Benes in 1946.  The festival is a tribute to the famouse Czech composer Bedrich Smetana. He is best known for his symphony Vltava inspired by the major Czech river that runs through Prague.

To my biggest regret, I’ve never been to Prague Spring. The 1968 political movement was also called Prague Spring.

The month of May is dedicated to Saint Mary in the catholic church. We used to sing Marianne hymns by the little chapels and in churches decorated with white hydrangeas and dahlias every evening at 6 p.m. It was a month for first communions, pretty white lace dresses and ribbons.

But, May had its dark side according to the lore; it wasn’t a good time to get married. Legend has it if a couple gets married in May, one of the partners will die early.

Were there weddings in May? Probably.

However, a big part of the population was superstitious partly due to Czech literature and its great authors. Some of the biggest ones who wrote about May were Karel Hynek Macha and Jaromir Erben.

May is known for opening of the beer gardens under the beautiful lilac blossoms.

I remember our neighbor Mr. J had a big old lilac tree that had both purple and white blossoms. I was always puzzled by that, since you really only saw one color or the other. Many years later someone told me that Mr. J had it  grafted.

To be continued

Copyright (c) 2018. Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

May Day

This is one of my most popular posts.; back by demand

Happy May Day

May 1st traditions in Czech Republic & around the world

By Emma Palova

EW Emma’s Writings

Lowell, MI – Every year, I observe May 1st as May Day in the renaissance Czech tradition with warm memories of the socialist past. If I close my eyes, I can still see the parades, the tribunes and the socialist propaganda with the slogans and the banners on the backdrop of the blossoming lilacs. The socialist patriotic hymns were blasting from the loudspeakers.

We all had to Partake in the May Day parade.  Those who didn’t got later into trouble at work or in school.

Today, Czech Republic still celebrates May 1, as an official holiday with a day off to commemorate the union manifestations in Chicago in 1884. Only this time around, without the parades or the slogans.

But most of all, May Day, was a great day off known for its official opening of the beer gardens, and the infamous “march of the thieves.”

The organized labor from the factories marched in the parades, while some individuals used the opportunity to steal from the gated factories because of less supervision. Therein the name “march of the thieves.”

First and foremost, May is the month of love, not just labor.

And I write about all this in the memoir “Greenwich Meridian” with a light heart and a smile on my face with a touch of nostalgia.

I admire the old Czech country for being able to keep both the old socialist holidays, take on new ones, and tamper with the most important holiday of all that is the liberation of the country from the Nazi occupation in 1945.

New politicians with new agendas changed the date of the liberation of former Czechoslovakia from May 9th to May 8th based on the controversy who really liberated the country, whether it was the Soviets or the Americans. The question at hand; who was the first and where?

Having lived in many countries around the world, our family always honored the holidays of that particular country, otherwise we would have time off all the time.

Looking at my calendar last week for a summary, I found amusing that Canada also has Easter Monday off as an official holiday, just like the Czech Republic.

However, any holiday can take root in any country as I have witnessed in my hometown of Vizovice.

I remember our neighbor bus driver Mr. Hlavenka in Vizovice, used to celebrate Fourth of July by taking the day off in the old socialist era.

I’ve always wondered, how did he know about Independence Day with all the propaganda against American capitalism.

But, May 1st has deep agricultural connotations as well. People gather wildflowers and crown a May king and queen, weave floral garlands, and set up a maypole.

Majove slavnosti

They also have bonfires to encourage the fertility of the land and animals in the coming year.

It is fascinating how different traditions and believes take roots in different countries, and how they continue to evolve.

Watch for more upcoming May posts.

 

Copyright (c) 2017-2018. Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

Czech Easter traditions in 2018

Happy Easter

Czech Easter lasts four days from Good Friday to Easter Monday

By Emma Palova

EW Emma’s Writings

The major difference between Czech and American Easter, is that Czech Republic has an Easter Monday celebration.

On Easter Monday, the custom in the villages calls for “whipping” of the girls and women to commemorate Christ’s whipping before he was crucified. Boys and men braid the whips from willow branches.

The teams head out early in the morning on Easter Monday. The ladies of the house always have ready ribbons to tie to the whips, shots of plum brandy and colored eggs. The leader of the team carries the longest whip with the most ribbons.

Some carry wooden “rattles” that make deafening noises ushering in the jolly “whipping team.” The rattles were used instead of church bells. Legend has it that the church bells left for Rome.

Slovak variation on Monday Easter features pouring water or cologne on girls and women.

Women color the eggs quite often in onion skins for natural brown look. Depending on the region, the Easter feast features “kolache,” a festive traditional pastry of modest origins. Kolache are common also in Czech communities across the USA; Cedar Rapids, Bannister, West Texas and countless others.

 

The Easter meal, again depending on the region, will be most likely “rizek” which is a breaded pork, veal or rabbit fried steak with mashed potatoes accompanied by home-made preserved fruits.

Roasted goose or duck can be an alternative.

In Moravia, the host will offer a shot of plum brandy to greet you at the doorstep. The plum brandies are a pride of each household, and as such they differ based on the plums. Plum brandies are made in local distilleries with equal pride in their craft.

Families get together from far and near to duscuss the latest news; who died, who got married or divorced and to gossip about neighbors and friends.

When we transferred Czech customs to North America in the 1990s, we kept the Easter “whipping”, the plum shots, while adding the American egg hunt and having a leg of lamb with herbs for Easter dinner.

We do miss the “kolache” pastry, since I do not know how to make kolache, and my mom Ella is still in Venice, Florida.

I cannot make the lamb-shaped pound cake, because I don’t have the form for it. The pound cake is easy to make, once you have the form, but the “kolache” remain a skillfull art.

My brother Vas colored the eggs this year using wax.

Stay tuned for posts about Czech traditions in America including the elusive “kolache.”

 

Pictured above: Easter lamb pound cake, colored eggs called “kraslice”, braided whips and a wooden rattle.

The feature photo: Gentle whipping on Easter at the Pala household somewhere in Midwest America. Pictured are: Ludek Pala, Jakub Pala & Maranda Palova.

Copyright (c) 2018. Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

Lorenz, Czech restaurant with Austrian flavors

Restaurant Lorenz, a dream come true for Czech & Slovak couple

After working as a chef at a Viennese restaurant for 30 years, Jan Laurencik opened a restaurant in beautiful Kromeriz with wife Eva on this wintry day at the end of January.

Having a restaurant in Kromeriz has been a lifelong dream for this enterprising couple, Jan & Eva. Jan is from Slovakia, Eva is a lifelong resident of Kromeriz in Czech Republic.

The fusion of the Austrian dishes with Czech is apparent in the entrees such as the featured Old Viennese pork knee on a skewer with red cabbage sauerkraut, hot pepper and bread, served on a plank and accompanied by Bernard beer.

“It is delicious with a well-balanced tangy taste of the sauerkraut,” said Emma Palova. Palova visited Kromeriz and the local restaurants many times. “I love this Moravian specialty. The beer washes down the grease from the knee. It’s finger-licking good.”

The weekly menu features daily specials with soup included and a choice of four  entrees ranging in price from 85 kc to 135 kc. KC stands for Czech currency, Czech crowns.

The restaurant/cafe menu is complete with a piece of Vienna; that is the Sachr Torte. The Sachr chocolate cake has been the most famous cake in the world since 1832, and the original recipe remains a well-kept secret.

The featured coffee is the Vienna melange with Mozart’s kugel confection. The large selection of desserts also features traditional Czech “pohar” cup with fruits, whipped cream and ice cream.

And of course the dessert menu would not be complete without the famous apple strudel, home to both Austria and Czech Republic.

Congratulations to my friends Eva Larencikova and her husband Jan to the opening of the Lorenz Restaurant & Kavarna in beautiful Kromeriz, Czech Republic.

Note: Eva and I met on a “Hops” train to Zatec in 1982. We spent three weeks in the Bohemian hops fields picking hops in order to obtain a university credit from the Technical University of Brno. The hops brigade was mandatory under the socialist educational system. Hops in all forms including liquid as in beer, have cemented our lifetime long distance friendship. The pork knee on a plank with beer was our favorite dish during our student years in Brno, because it was good and cheap. The distance across the Atlantic Ocean has changed nothing in our relationship.

You don’t need a Reservation to  this Czech Viennese cafe. 

http://www.ulorenze.cz/

Featured photo: Courtesy of Lorenz Restaurant & Kavarna

Smoked pork knee on a skewer with red sauerkraut and bread served on a plank.

Copyright (c) 2018. Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

Plotting new year’s courses

I have just glanced at my Jan. 19 Taurus Horoscope to see if I am on track. Without the Blink of an eye this is what I found out.

I have enrolled in Spanish classes together with Ludek. I will be teaching ESL English as a Second Language and writing classes in the Grand Rapids area. My new column about Czech heritage is coming up in the Western Fraternal Life Herald, based in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

My next book signing of Shifting Sands Short Stories will take place at the LowellArts downtown gallery on Main Street on Feb. 3 from 1 to 4 pm. I will be offering tips on how to start and finish your book in 2018. Sign up on Facebook @emmapalova to win a free book.

For more info on the Western Fraternal Life Association and the Fraternal Herald monthly magazine go to:

http://www.flains.org

This is my horoscope for today.

You may be intrigued by the prospects of enrolling in a course of study today, but you’re determined to specifically learn something that can contribute to your material success. Although your practical …

Source: Taurus Horoscope for January 19, 2018

Copyright (c) 2018. Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

May Day

This is one of my most popular posts.; back by demand

Happy May Day

May 1st traditions in Czech Republic & around the world

By Emma Palova

EW Emma’s Writings

Lowell, MI – Every year, I observe May 1st as May Day in the renaissance Czech tradition with warm memories of the socialist past. If I close my eyes, I can still see the parades, the tribunes and the socialist propaganda with the slogans and the banners on the backdrop of the blossoming lilacs. The socialist patriotic hymns were blasting from the loudspeakers.

We all had to Partake in the May Day parade.  Those who didn’t got later into trouble at work or in school.

Today, Czech Republic still celebrates May 1, as an official holiday with a day off to commemorate the union manifestations in Chicago in 1884. Only this time around, without the parades or the slogans.

But most of all, May Day, was a great day off known for its official opening of the beer gardens, and the infamous “march of the thieves.”

The organized labor from the factories marched in the parades, while some individuals used the opportunity to steal from the gated factories because of less supervision. Therein the name “march of the thieves.”

First and foremost, May is the month of love, not just labor.

And I write about all this in the memoir “Greenwich Meridian” with a light heart and a smile on my face with a touch of nostalgia.

I admire the old Czech country for being able to keep both the old socialist holidays, take on new ones, and tamper with the most important holiday of all that is the liberation of the country from the Nazi occupation in 1945.

New politicians with new agendas changed the date of the liberation of former Czechoslovakia from May 9th to May 8th based on the controversy who really liberated the country, whether it was the Soviets or the Americans. The question at hand; who was the first and where?

Having lived in many countries around the world, our family always honored the holidays of that particular country, otherwise we would have time off all the time.

Looking at my calendar last week for a summary, I found amusing that Canada also has Easter Monday off as an official holiday, just like the Czech Republic.

However, any holiday can take root in any country as I have witnessed in my hometown of Vizovice.

I remember our neighbor bus driver Mr. Hlavenka in Vizovice, used to celebrate Fourth of July by taking the day off in the old socialist era.

I’ve always wondered, how did he know about Independence Day with all the propaganda against American capitalism.

But, May 1st has deep agricultural connotations as well. People gather wildflowers and crown a May king and queen, weave floral garlands, and set up a maypole.

Majove slavnosti

They also have bonfires to encourage the fertility of the land and animals in the coming year.

It is fascinating how different traditions and believes take roots in different countries, and how they continue to evolve.

Watch for more upcoming May posts.

 

Copyright (c) 2017-2018. Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.