Old-style Czech Easter market at Toulcuv dvur

20-03-2002

Easter is fast approaching and Prague seems to be well prepared for celebrating. While painted eggs, thrashing rods and chocolate hares are available throughout the city, a huge Easter market has opened in the Old Town Square in the historical centre. Last weekend Alena Skodova visited a different, old-styled market, similar to those that previous generations knew and loved:

The market was held at Toulcuv dvur - or the Toulec farmstead - in a suburb of Prague last Saturday. And although it was conceived like an old Czech market, I noticed immediately that visitors were mainly young families with their children.

I spoke to the man who organised the whole old-style market, Tomas Komrsy :

"It's not a common market, because to sell something is just one part of the programme, but the basis is that we have many different workshops, and people - especially parents with their little children - can make here different small things related to Easter. They paint eggs, they make gingerbread, it's about old Czech customs and traditions. Very often young parents have forgotten about them and we want to revive the old customs for them."

I entered a long building, which used to be a shed for more than 300 sheep - I was told be another organizer, Mrs. Marie Moravcova. This building hosted dozens of stands or just makeshift tables, where all Easter goods were displayed, but not only that: I saw egg-painters in old costumes who were showing kids how to follow this typical Czech Easter custom of decorating eggs. I saw whistle-makers, who complained that the willow branches were not yet ripe enough to make good sounding whistles, and there were also a few stands offering typical Easter foods, such as gingerbread and home-made honey-brandy, a popular drink of our ancestors. I asked Mrs. Moravcova how she managed to gather all those people for a venture like this?

"It's fun, but the world is small, and these are my friends. We share the same hobby - the preservation of old Czech traditions. Many of them are graduates from various courses of folk art. And that's also the main idea behind today's market - to teach young mothers and fathers - who are nearly two generations younger than me - how to paint eggs, plait a typical twig rod for thrashing girls on Easter Monday and other seasonal customs, so that they can have their own Easter celebration at home."

The market was held only on Saturday. I was there before noon, and the organizers told me they expected up to a thousand people would attend it by the end of the day.

20-03-2002