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Celebrating Easter while Studying Abroad in the Czech Republic

March 27, 2024
by Lauren Thorburn

Celebrating Easter while Studying Abroad in Prague, Czech Republic

If you’re planning on studying abroad in the Czech Republic for your Spring semester, then you’re in for a treat. Easter is a huge holiday in the Czech Republic, and Prague really knows how to celebrate the holiday. Almost the entire months of April and May are dedicated to the coming of springtime, and after spending time in Prague during the cold months of February and March, I understand why the Czech people love their spring traditions! 

The History of Easter in the Czech Republic 

The best way to enjoy the Easter festivities in Prague and the Czech Republic is by knowing the history behind it. When Czechoslovakia was under the communist regime, the religious connotations of Easter were suppressed. During that time period, the meaning of Easter (also referred to as Velikonoce in Czech) was about the welcoming of spring. Nowadays, Easter still represents the coming of spring; however, the Czech people understand the strong Christian background of Easter. 

The Unique Easter Traditions of the Czech Republic

Easter in the Czech Republic is full of fun traditions that are unique to the country. One of the main events is called Masopust. It's basically Mardi Gras, but Czech-style! Carnival celebrations are found all over the world, so it’s such a treat being able to experience a version of it in a different country. Masopust in the Czech Republic takes place in the days leading up to Ash Wednesday. People wear costumes and masks, and there are often various parades and celebrations throughout the city of Prague and the entire country. The masks vary from human forms to animals and everything in between. It's a large celebration that often includes a lot of meat-heavy feasts as this event occurs before Lent. The parades often end in a pub of some sort where all the eating and drinking continues until sunrise. Another important aspect of this holiday is the various noise makers used. The most common ones are wooden ratchets that can be bought at all the touristy Easter Markets in Prague’s Old Town.  

A group of people in a city

The Easter Market in Old Town Square, with the Astronomical Clock in the background.

Another traditional Czech easter specialty are the Easter Eggs which can be spotted everywhere during the weeks surrounding Easter. The eggs are sometimes real eggs or wooden ones. Almost all the eggs are hand-painted or decorated with beautiful patterns. The girls are the ones who are supposed to decorate the eggs, and they’ll give them to the boys on Easter Monday. These eggs are meant to symbolize spring and the beginning of a new life. Apparently, there’s also a nationwide Easter egg contest held in Prague and other Czech cities, although I didn't see this myself. 

A group of people standing around a large statue of a rabbit

A large white Easter Bunny located in Old Town Square’s Easter Market.

Another one of the most well-known Czech traditions is known as the Pussywillow. What it is are braided whips made from pussywillow twigs. The idea is that the boys are supposed to make these whips and carry them around on Easter Monday, whipping the girls on the legs. It’s still common today and is supposed to bring health and youth to anyone who is whipped with them. When I visited Cesky Krumlov, a small Czech town in the south of the country, my female tour guide told me that both her husband and son whip her every Easter Monday. 

Easter Markets 

It’s very easy to recognize when Easter celebrations are about to begin in Prague because the trees start being decorated with colorful ribbons and eggs. Easter markets begin to erupt in every town square all over the city.  

A group of people in a city

One of the various Easter Markets in Prague at the Prague Castle in front of St. Vitus Cathedral.

The biggest Easter Market is in the Old Town Square. Here, they also have a few performances. One day, while I was wandering around Old Town, a children’s choir began singing. Although the songs were all in Czech and I didn’t understand a word they said, it was a beautiful moment that I will remember forever. 

At the Easter markets, there are many different stalls. Chimney cakes, known as Trdelník, can be bought everywhere.

A person cooking food outside of a store

One of the many Trdelnik (Chinmeny Cake) stands at the Easter Markets around Prague.

There's also coffee, a selection of various meats, and of course, beer. It’s not a real Czech celebration without the presence of beer. You'll find other things at the Easter markets including the colorful Easter eggs, Pussywillow whips, and a lot of handmade jewelry.  

Other Czech Traditions and Holidays to Enjoy 

The Spring semester is a great time to be in the Czech Republic because there are a few other traditions and holidays aside from Easter that are worth celebrating. Two days after I arrived in Prague, was the Hromnice holiday on February 2nd. For anyone familiar with Groundhog Day in the U.S., Hromnice has a similar idea and represents the middle of winter in the Czech Republic. 

One of my favorite holidays has been May 1st. In the Czech Republic, it’s known and celebrated as the Day of Love. It’s also supposed to be officially the first day of spring, and it didn't disappoint– the sun was shining all day! One of the traditions I heard about the day was that couples are supposed to kiss each other under the cherry blossom trees that begin flowering in spring.

A building with towers and trees in the background

The spring cherry blossoms blooming in front of the St. Vitus Cathedral at Prague Castle.

Another tradition I read about is that couples go to the statue of Karel Hynek Mácha, who was a famous Czech poet known as the “poet of love.” While at this statue, which is located in Petřín Park, the couples lay down flowers and just spend time together. 

Lauren Thorburn is the Content Creator - Blogger.
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