HOLIDAYS AND TRADITIONS

IN THE CZECH REPUBLIC

 

 

Introduction Birthday, nameday Projects

Easter Wedding PDF version

Christmas Public holidays Menu Topics

New Year's Eve Exercises, revision

 

 

INTRODUCTION

 

Do you know anybody who doesn’t like to laugh, have a good time, enjoy himself and celebrate? If so, he is one of a small minority. Some of us really try to seek out quiet, calm places without noise or people. But that doesn’t mean that they don’t take part in celebrations from time to time.

In the course of the year we have many opportunities for celebrations. Most often we celebrate our birthday, name day, wedding and baptism of one of our relatives or acquaintances. At this occasion the guest of honour receives presents, sweets and other gifts.

 

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EASTER

 

Easter in the Czech Republic is an important feast for everybody and is linked not only with Christian ideas, but also with interesting folk traditions.

Christian Easter lasts for one week, called Holy Week. It ends on Easter Sunday, the most important day of the week, because on that day Jesus returned to life.

Monday is the most important day here in the Czech Republic. Our folk traditions and customs are mostly of pagan origin and celebrate a new start of life in nature.

Easter in the Czech Republic is an important feast for everybody and is linked not only with Christian ideas, but also with interesting folk traditions.

Christian Easter lasts for one week, called Holy Week. It ends on Easter Sunday, the most important day of the week, because on that day Jesus returned to life.

Monday is the most important day here in the Czech Republic. Our folk traditions and customs are mostly of pagan origin and celebrate a new start of life in nature.

Before Easter, boys have to prepare plaited willow canes decorated with ribbons. Girls have to colour, decorate or paint eggs. On Monday morning, boys with their canes go from house to house, chase girls and whip them saying traditional rhymes and asking for Easter eggs. The girls try to hide and pretend to run away but all have a lot of fun together. Sometimes they also pour water on each other. The boys collect their rewards (eggs, sweets, chocolate or even money). Small children are given chocolate eggs and small presents from the Easter Bunny.

At Easter, people eat many traditional meals: a special mixture of smoked meat, eggs and fresh nettle, sweet cakes called "mazanec" with a cross on the top, small plain cakes called "Jidáše" and a sweet cake in a shape of a lamb called "beránek".

People like to grow corn in flowerpots. When it is green, they decorate it with painted eggs. All the houses and flats are cleaned and decorated. Clean windows are essential to see nature waking up.

People also send cards with Easter folk symbols or baby animals (symbol of new life) or early spring flowers (snowdrops, daffodils) wishing each other good health and happiness.

 

Before Easter, boys have to prepare plaited willow canes decorated with ribbons. Girls have to colour, decorate or paint eggs. On Monday morning, boys with their canes go from house to house, chase girls and whip them saying traditional rhymes and asking for Easter eggs. The girls try to hide and pretend to run away but all have a lot of fun together. Sometimes they also pour water on each other. The boys collect their rewards (eggs, sweets, chocolate or even money). Small children are given chocolate eggs and small presents from the Easter Bunny.

At Easter, people eat many traditional meals: a special mixture of smoked meat, eggs and fresh nettle, sweet cakes called "mazanec" with a cross on the top, small plain cakes called "Jidáše" and a sweet cake in a shape of a lamb called "beránek".

People like to grow corn in flowerpots. When it is green, they decorate it with painted eggs. All the houses and flats are cleaned and decorated. Clean windows are essential to see nature waking up.

People also send cards with Easter folk symbols or baby animals (symbol of new life) or early spring flowers (snowdrops, daffodils) wishing each other good health and happiness.

 

 

plaited willow cane - vrbová pomlázka

link - spojovat

pagan origin - pohanský původ

ribbon - stuha

chase - honit

whip - šlehat, mrskat

pretend - předstírat

nettle - kopřiva

corn - obilí       

essential - nezbytný

 

 

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CHRISTMAS

 

Every year we look forward to Christmas. Christmas is one of those holidays that most people look forward to. Christmas is celebrated in other countries as well, with each nation keeping its own customs and folk traditions.

About a month before Christmas holidays Christmas decorations start appearing in the shops. Green, gold and silver decorations awaken the holiday spirit in us. Christmas is said to be a holiday of peace and calm. At this time we think more about other people. We look for suitable presents for these who are dear to us. Everybody tries to choose the best presents from the large offer in the shops. For dad we choose a detective novel, an electric shaver or a wristwatch. Mum will be happy to get a nice tablecloth, a bottle of fine perfume or a picture; small children will get nice toys - toy cars, balls for boys and dolls, toy dishes for the kitchen for little girls.

Advent begins four weeks before Christmas Eve. During this period we prepare for this long-awaited winter holiday. Mothers prepare special Christmas sweets - the most typical are vanilla rolls, ginger bread and sweets with nuts, almonds, coconut, raisins and chocolate, and of course Christmas cake.

On Saturdays and Sundays we attend Christmas market. The third Sunday before Christmas is called Bronze Sunday, the second one Silver Sunday and the last Sunday before December 24th is Gold Sunday.

On December 6th we celebrate St. Nicholas Day. Many people look forward to this day but some children are afraid of it. That is because the nice St. Nicholas is accompanied by an angel as well as a devil. The children must say whether they have been good the whole year. Then they sing a song or recite a poem. If the children had not been good, the devil rattles with his chains. Good children get a bag or a sock full of fruit and sweets, bad children get only coal and potatoes.

The last week before Christmas, when Christmas shopping rush culminates, freshly-cut Christmas trees appear in the streets. We can choose from a pine, spruce or fir. The prices depend on the height and a type of a tree. We can buy a nice artificial Christmas tree at present. People decorate Christmas trees with glass stars, balls, bells, gingerbread, candles and sparklers. They do it in the morning on December 24th - Christmas Eve.

On Christmas Eve some children do not eat anything all day, they want to see the golden piglet. The television shows a lot of fairy tales and entertainment programmes all day and that is why many people (especially men and children) sit in front of the TV set all day long and do nothing except switching from channel to channel.

Part of Christmas holidays is a typical meal. For Christmas dinner, which usually takes place at about six p.m., we eat fish soup, fried carp with potato salad, sweets and fruit.  After dinner daddy lights candles on the Christmas tree and rings a little bell. Then we unwrap the presents, listen to or sing Christmas carols and do some old customs. We can pour lead, cut off apples and send walnut shells on the water in order to know about our future. At midnight both believers and unbelievers go to the midnight mass at the nearest church.

 

 

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NEW YEAR’S EVE, NEW YEAR’S DAY           

 

Each year ends on December 31st. On that day we celebrate New Year’s Eve, which means the end of the old and the beginning of the new year. The night between these two days is full of celebrations. People meet at their homes, in hotels and restaurants and so on. They dance, sing, tell jokes and stories, eat and drink. At the midnight everybody takes up a glass of champagne in hand waiting for the clock to strike the midnight. Most of us make New Year’s resolutions which unfortunately are not kept very often. We wish one another all the best in the New Year, health, happiness, love and success.

 

 

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BIRTHDAY, NAMEDAY

 

We celebrate our birthday on the day we were born on and the name day on the day when there is our first name in the calendar. We invite our relatives and friends to a party. We prepare some refreshment - sandwiches with butter, ham or salami, eggs, some salad and vegetables, sweets and cakes, ice-cream, crisps, lemonade and other soft drinks, some wine or other spirits.

The guests usually bring flowers and some presents for us – a box of chocolates, books, some cosmetics, pictures, toys for children and so on. At first they congratulate us on our holiday. Then we eat, drink, talk, tell jokes and some stories, play cards or other table games, simply we enjoy a party. But sometimes we just eat, drink and watch TV.

 

 

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WEDDING

 

Wedding is a very important moment in people’s life. Everybody wants to have his/her wedding party beautiful and unforgettable. The young couple chooses the wedding announcement and wedding clothes. The brides use to wear marvellous long white dresses decorated with a lace, ribbons, embroideries and so on. The bridegrooms wear a dark elegant suit with a tie or a bowtie. The bridegroom buys the wedding rings and the bride’s family prepares the wedding party.

The wedding ceremonies are held at the town halls or sometimes in old castles. Some couples get married in the church. After the wedding ceremony the just-married couple goes to the photograph and then the wedding party can start. The wedding party is usually held at home or in a hotel or a restaurant. There are lots of food, sweets, cakes, fruit, soft drinks and spirits on the tables. The menu is chosen very carefully and sometimes it is very expensive. People eat, drink, dance and sing.

The guests give many presents to young couple. These are especially the things needed for a new household (bed linen, towels, a tablecloth, chinaware, glasses, coffee sets, tea sets, lamps, pictures, pots, vases, some pottery pieces, and so on).

 

 

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THE STATE (PUBLIC) HOLIDAYS

 

There are some days in our country, which are important not just for one person or for one family, but for the whole country.

 

Р     January 1st, 1993 - it is the date of foundation of the Czech Republic. Generally January 1st is called the New Year's Day.

Р     May 1st - political parties on the left celebrate a holiday of working people - May Day.

Р     May 8th - the day of the liberation of Czechoslovakia from the Nazis. It marks the end of WWII.

Р     July, 5th - the day of St. Cyril and St. Method who came from Byzantium to teach the people of Great Moravia how to read and write.

Р     July, 6th - Master John Huss - a Catholic preacher of the commons was burned to death at the stake as a heretic in 1415.

Р     September 28th - St. Wenceslas Day. St. Wenceslas is the saint patron of the Czech lands.

Р     October 28th, 1918 - it is the date of foundation of the first independent Czechoslovak Republic.

Р     November 2nd - this day is for our ancestors. The day is dedicated to honouring deceased family members. We go to the cemetery to place flowers and candles on their graves.

Р     November 17th - the beginning of the "velvet revolution".

 

 

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