While generally regarded as one of the most secular countries in Europe, The Czech Republic and Prague in particular have a variety of Easter traditions for visitors to enjoy.
The Easter season in the Czech Republic was generally associated with the welcoming of Spring, as the religious connections to the holiday were suppressed under communism. Today the religious aspects of the holiday are known, but not heavily emphasized in celebrations.
Starting in March, Easter markets appear in some of the most popular areas of Prague to welcome spring. Old Town Square, Wenceslas Square and Republic Square host three of the largest markets in the city. The markets are great places to see entertainment like dancing, music and craft demonstrations as well as shop and enjoy traditional foods.
The largest and most impressive Easter market is found in Old Town Square where 90 vendors selling ornately decorated eggs, toys, candles, ceramics, and puppets. The market is decorated with flowers and bright spring colors. The Old Town Market also offers egg decorating for children and candle making.
The Easter markets are open everyday starting March 17th until April 8th including Easter Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday.
Naplavka Easter Markets
In addition to the Easter markets, the Naplavka Farmers Market by the Vltava river will host two special markets on March 24th and 31st from 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. to celebrate the Easter season. The Naplavka markets will sell traditional Czech Easter decorations, decorated Easter eggs and treats such as gingerbread and sweet bread called mazanec.
There will also be hens laying eggs for purchase so people can decorate their own eggs. Ecofarm will also be selling traditional white and green eggs for purchase at the markets. The markets will also have live demonstrations of egg decoration, as well as demonstrations of how to make braided whips.
Throughout the Easter season there are a variety of symbols which are observed throughout the Czech Republic.
Easter eggs called “kraslice” are beautifully decorated eggs with various patterns like geometric and floral designs and applied with materials such as paint, beeswax and straw. Families will usually decorate eggs in their homes using materials ranging from dyes to paint, beeswax or straw. The eggs are hard-boiled and can be found at various Easter markets around Prague.
Braided whips called “pomlazka” are used by boys to lightly whip girls legs on Easter Monday. Legend has it that the twigs the whips are made from bring health and youth to those who receive a whipping. The whips are decorated with ribbons at the end and sold at Easter Markets.
Traditional Czech foods during Easter include a baked lamb meal, but with the shortage in meat during the communist era a lamb-shaped cake made from gingerbread, chocolate or sugar became a popular treat.
The color red is often seen around the Easter season because it represents health, happiness and the newness of the Spring season.
The week leading up to Easter has a variety of traditions that take place throughout the Czech Republic.
Ugly Wednesday (Škaredá středa) is a day dedicated to spring cleaning as well as when Czech schoolchildren decorate in order to make Easter beautiful.
Green Thursday (Zelený čtvrtek) is the day when boys go through the villages shaking rattles, a tradition that is believed to scare away Judas Iscariot the disciple that betrayed Jesus in Christianity. You can also find green beer sold that day as well.
Good Friday (Velký pátek) repeats the festivities of Green Thursday.
White Saturday (Bílá sobota) continues the rattling, but boys go door to door and shake the rattles in the hopes of receiving money from the homeowners.
Easter Sunday (Neděle velikonoční) is a day of preparation for Easter Monday when girls decorate eggs and boys prepare their pomlazka whips.
Easter Monday (Pondělí velikonoční) is the day of pomlazka which is the name of the day as well as the tradition of whipping. The day of pomlazka began as a pagan tradition to symbolize chasing away evil spirits and bringing health and prosperity to those who were whipped. The day is celebrated with boys using their pomlazkas to gently whip girls who give the boys eggs as well as tie ribbons to the ends of the pomlazka. Today however, the tradition is mostly celebrated for fun.
The combination of the warming spring weather and festivities bring Prague to life during the Easter season. From the colorful Easter markets in Prague, to the Czech traditions in the villages the Easter season in the Czech Republic is one that surely should not be missed.
- Náplavka Market : Rašínovo nábřeží, Praha 1
- Old Town Square: Staroměstské náměstí, Praha 1 – Staré Město, 110 00
- Wenceslas Square: Václavské náměstí, Praha 1 – Nové Město, 110 00
- New Town, 110 00 Praha 1
- Republic Square: New Town, 110 00 Praha 1
- Havel’s Market (on Kampa Island) : Havelská 13, 110 00 Staré Město
- St. George’s Basilica (in the square in front of the Basilica): 119 08 Praha 1
- Prague Castle: 119 08 Praha 1