Tag Archives: Pala

In the spirit of Octoberfest

International union in the spirit of Octoberfest

By Emma Palova

Hastings, MI- In the spirit of the original Octoberfest that honored the marriage of crown prince Ludwig and princess of Saxony on Oct. 12, 1810, we invite all along to celebrate our upcoming international union.

Jakub Pala, born in former Czechoslovakia, will be marrying Maranda Ruegsegger of Saranac on Oct. 25th in the pioneer Saint Patrick Church in Parnell.

The guests, like birds, started to fly in to Gerald Ford International Airport in Grand Rapids as of yesterday. The first batch came from Dijon, France.

First guests from France
First guests from France

The second batch is arriving tonight from Czech Republic. The house will be full to the rafters with kids tweeting like the birdies on the patio.

To honor the international bond between the countries as well as between the couple, we are putting on a “Welcome dinner” celebration this Sunday. This is preceded by the baptism of Samuel Chavent, also at the Saint Patrick Church.

The dinner, catered by AdelineLeigh, reflects our love for our new homeland. We also wanted to introduce our Czech guests to American cuisine. So, barbeque is the theme: bbq chicken, bbq pork, au gratin potatoes, seven layer salad and baked beans. And of course a keg of Samuel Adams Boston lager.

Hops, Czech liquid gold
Hops, Czech liquid gold

Much like in Germany, home to Octoberfest, and Austria, no Czech celebration would be complete without beer. Most beers in these countries are high-quality and long-aged lagers made from Western Bohemian hops in small to mid-size breweries.

Czech immigrants carried this tradition with them to other countries.

“Beer is the Czech liquid gold,” according to an old saying.

However, communication between the Czech, American and French guests may be a challenge. So, many of us will serve as interpreters between the three different languages.

Pala, fully bilingual, hopes that his daughter Josephine Marie Palova will speak Czech as well.

“He speaks and reads to her in Czech,” said Maranda.

Pala is very proud of his Czech heritage. He came to the USA when he was 2.5 years old. During our stint in Montreal, Canada in the 1990s all of us were trilingual.

“You’re as many persons as the languages you speak,” according to an old Czech saying.

Follow us on our journey to the international wedding.

To be continued

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Parish Festivals

Parish festivals bring families together

Much like in the USA, many festivals in Czech Republic are tied to churches and their patron saints. We’ve just experienced a great St. Patrick’s parish festival here in Parnell last weekend. For the first time we could all enjoy it together as a family. It was a family reunion at its best.

My daughter Emma Palova-Chavent arrived from France on Tuesday prior to the festival with her daughter Ella. And my parents Ella and Vaclav came from Big Rapids. To my big surprise even my brother Vas peddled on his bike 75 miles from Paris, Michigan to Lowell for the festival. My son Jake came for the chicken dinner from Kalamazoo.

Polka dance at St. Pat's Parish Festival last Sunday.
Polka dance at St. Pat’s Parish Festival last Sunday.

I was also mildly surprised by the $3 admission charge to play in the Las Vegas tent. My daughter and I always lose a lot more than just $3. We all went Sunday to the festival to enjoy the chicken dinner and mainly the polka music by the Diddle Styx Polka Band.

It felt almost like back home in Czech Republic during the Saint Mary’s Pilgrimage days in September that will now be held on the brand new Marian Square in front of the medieval church. Both Czechs and Germans love to listen, sing or whirl a polka.

We always came to visit with my in-laws for the Marian festival in Stipa, along with other family members.  I write about this in my memoir “Greenwich Meridian,” because the church has quite often inspired me for its opulent baroque interior with a beautiful organ. My uncle Tony used to play the organ. I was married in that church, and funeral masses for most family members were held there.

The Pala and Konecny families enjoy chicken dinner at the parish festival.
The Pala and Konecny families enjoy chicken dinner at the parish festival.

Most women in the village including my mother-in-law Julie baked and cooked up a storm for the Marian festival, as the families got together from far and near. We usually had schnitzels, which are breaded pork chops, and mashed potatoes with home canned compote. For dessert, we had the traditional “kolache” pastries filled with plum butter and cottage cheese.

There was a dance on the night before the festival Sunday, much like here in Parnell. I can think of only a minor difference between the two events. Carnival rides always accompanied the Marian feast, while classic car and antique car show embellish St. Pat’s festival. We didn’t have raffles or auctions, but we had colorful paper roses on wires from the carnival caravans as souvenirs from the Marian festival.

Saint Mary's church in Stipa, Czech Republic during Marian pilgrimage days.
Saint Mary’s church in Stipa, Czech Republic during Marian pilgrimage days.

The Marian event in Stipa is officially called a pilgrimage, because originally people made pilgrimages to a small chapel with one of the oldest statues of Virgin Mary in Moravia that stood in place of the church. We made a pilgrimage once from our Zlin apartment to the Marian church in 1978 when I was pregnant with my daughter. We walked approximately seven kilometers across the Southern Slopes and along the narrow roadway to Stipa.

Pilgrimages are still common in Europe to places like Fatima in Portugal and Lourdes in France, as well as Hostyn in Czech Republic.

Copyright @2013 story and photos by Emma Palova