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.
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