Jan Špidlen is the fourth generation of his family to work as a master violin maker. What are some of the secrets to crafting top class violins? And how has the industry changed in the last few decades? I discussed those questions with Špidlen surrounded by an array of traditional tools at his Prague centre workshop. But I began by asking him about the first violin he ever produced?
The Czech Republic is facing a chronic lack of skilled craftsmen, according
to the Association of Small and Medium Enterprises, which notes a steady
drop of trainees in a number of fields in recent years.
The association said the biggest drop has been recorded in the masonry and painting. While in 2005 more than 700 masons were being trained in the Czech Republic, last year there were only 250. The corresponding number of carpenters is similar.
Schools are looking to attract more young people to such professions by introduction of a new school subject, called technical practice. Dozens of elementary schools plan to add it to their curriculum as of September.
Prague is hosting a major traditional culture fest this week - the Prague Folklore Days. Around 50 amateur folklore ensembles from Europe, Asia and Africa have gathered in the Czech capital to show off their musical and dancing skills to the public in various parts of the city. The event launched on Thursday and will continue until Saturday evening.
In a wide-ranging interview at the start of Holy Week, leading up to Easter, the Roman Catholic priest Tomáš Petráček – a leading church and social historian – talks about the pagan, Slavic, communist and Hapsburg influences on the position of the church in Czech society over the centuries, and why, in his mind, painting eggs and pre-Christian fertility rites have a welcome place at Easter alongside the liturgy.
Our Easter Sunday music show is dedicated to an album called Studánko Rubínko or Ruby Well by the band Hradišťan, one of the country’s most respected performers of folk music. The album, intended for children and their parents, includes songs, nursery rhymes, poems and carols, connected with spring time and Easter.
Traditional Easter celebrations in the Czech Republic have a strong religious connotation. However, many of the customs connected with this season date back to pre-Christian days. This is especially true of the eastern part of the country. Moravia is a historically and culturally distinct region and this is reflected also in the way local people celebrate this most important Christian holiday of the year.
Easter in the Czech Republic is a colourful mix of Christian and pagan traditions. People savor both the spiritual dimension of the holiday and celebrate the coming of spring. For this Easter special I met with food critic Petra Pospěchová to talk about Easter foods, Easter traditions, why so many people who are not practicing Christians go to Easter mass and why she, who is a believer, enjoys getting the traditional “whipping” on Easter Monday. Here are some of her thoughts on the second most popular holiday in the Czech Republic.
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