Czechs are borrowing more than ever to buy Christmas presents for their relatives and friends, suggests a survey carried out among the country’s non-banking consumer lenders. In the months preceding the festive season, loan firms are traditionally recording an increase in the number of loan applications.
Craftsmen producing glass Christmas ornaments and resist block printing, who were nominated last year, are eagerly awaiting the decision of a special UNESCO committee that is to decide whether they will have the honour of being listed on its Intangible Cultural Heritage list. Meanwhile the country’s beer barrel coopers, bagpipers and chenille fabric producers are hoping to be nominated in the future.
This year’s Christmas tree for Prague will come from the village of
Rynoltice near Liberec in the north of the Czech Republic. The 23-metre
spruce was selected by experts from some thirty trees, suggested by the
The tree will be raised on Prague’s Old Town Square on December 1, marking the launch of the city’s Christmas markets.
Renowned Czech musician Iva Bittová turns 60 on July 22nd. An excellent singer, violinist and composer, Bittová has never focused on one particular genre. She plays and sings folk music, jazz, rock as well as opera. She has also starred in several Czech films and appeared on stage at home and abroad.
The Prague fire service were called out 15 times between Monday evening and
Tuesday morning in connection with the Czech tradition of “witch
burning” bonfires. They had been banned in the capital this year in view
of dry conditions and strong winds and in eight cases the organisers agreed
to fire officers’ calls for them to douse the fires. The other seven
cases were false alarms, a fire service spokesperson said.
Fire fighters did not have to deal with any blazes resulting from unauthorised bonfires getting out of control.
Large public bonfires were called off at a number of places in the capital and people were also told not to light them on their own properties.
Burning witches on April 30-May 1 is an ancient pagan tradition which developed in various European countries including the Czech Republic. People believed witches were especially active on that night and that they flew above people’s heads and later trampled all the crops sown in the fields. That’s the reason why fires were lit with the express aim of burning the witches.
Many musical projects have noteworthy origin stories. But Dálava’s is truly one of a kind. Julia Úlehla and her musical and life partner Aram Bajakian began performing ancient Moravian folk songs – which they hadn’t heard – after happening upon them in a book named Živá píseň (Living Song). It had been compiled in the early 20th century by the former’s great-grandfather Vladimír Úlehla, a remarkable polymath.
Easter celebrations in the Czech Republic, which combine both Christian traditions and ancient pagan customs, are today mostly associated with painting eggs, whipping girls as well as eating loads of chocolates. But for dancer Antonie Svobodová, this time of year symbolizes a deep connection with the Earth. For more than 20 years, she has been marking the return of Spring by a ritual dance, based on age-old pagan rituals:
The Czech Republic has a rather unusual tradition on Easter Monday. Boys get willow branches, braid them together into whips and decorate them with ribbons to whip girls with for luck and fertility. The word for this whip in Czech is pomlázka, which has also become the name of the tradition itself. To learn more about pomlázka I interviewed three Czechs. The first is a 17 year-old-girl with several brothers, the second is an active feminist and the third is an expert on Czech folklore.
Although the Czech Republic is one of the most secular countries in Europe, Easter is observed in most homes around the country. True, most families observe the old Easter traditions that have largely pagan roots, but many people appreciate the message of Easter as one of reflection and forgiveness. And even though Czechs are among the least enthusiastic churchgoers in Europe, Easter mass is always a special occasion. Vít Pohanka visited the Evangelical Church of Czech Brethren to find out how Protestants celebrate Easter in the Czech Republic.
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