My highlight for last weekend was visiting the Easter market in Brno, the second largest city in the Czech Republic. My husband used to live in Brno, so ever so often we go there so he can do some admin and visit friends. This used to be quite a long trip from Berlin (7-8 hours), but now Ryanair has introduced a flight from Berlin to Brno, so there will probably be a lot more visitors between the two cities in the coming year.
Coming across the Easter market in Brno was an unexpected surprise, because I haven’t come across any Easter markets in Berlin, although people with gardens often decorate their trees or bushes with hanging Easter eggs (for some examples see my blog post here on the Easter tree).
Some of the stalls sold Easter decorations: everything bunny, chicken, lamb, egg or spring-related. We loved the painted wooden eggs in different colours and patterns.
There was also plenty of tasty food to try. The grilled, smoky cheese was the most delicious thing you could imagine. We also had salted breadsticks and waffles with Nutella and banana. There were stalls selling Moravian wine, blackcurrant wine, Hungarian sausages, trdelník (a piece of dough cooked on the fire and sugared, bramboráky (potato pancakes) , chocolate pralines and more.
Also for sale were the pomlázka (whips made of willow branches and decorated with ribbons) that are part of the Czech Easter tradition.
Guess what these are for? If you are a woman you probably won’t like it. The Easter Monday tradition is for the boys to go around with these whips and whip the girls, which is supposed to bring luck and fertility. Something similar used to be done in ancient Rome on the festival of Lupercalia, although in this case the whips were made of leather. So maybe it is a pagan tradition that used to exist more widely in Europe. Nowadays it seems to be only Czech Republic and Slovakia that still do it. Sometimes water is also poured over the girls, though apparently now this is more common in Slovakia. After the whipping, the girl is supposed to give the boy an Easter egg. Huh! Although it is tradition and supposed to be just for fun, somehow it still makes me feel uncomfortable thinking about it, but maybe that’s because I did not grow up with this tradition. I’ve never actually been in Czech Republic on Easter Monday so I’ve managed to escape it so far. I asked my husband if only the boys whip, or also the men. He said that the men often go around too, but normally you just offer them a shot to drink instead of being whipped. As a result, there are often a lot of tipsy people around on Easter Monday.
At any rate, it’s nice to see the whole town decorated with ribbons and Easter trees, and Easter displays in the windows. It’s popular to colour and decorate eggs and you can buy all sorts of things for doing that.
Another interesting Easter tradition is to drink green beer on Holy Thursday (the Thursday before Good Friday), so we saw lots of advertisements for the green beer around town.
In general, Easter in Czech Republic seems to be a lovely time to visit. There are lots of spring flowers, decorations and interesting traditions.
If you get a chance, visit the Brno over Easter. You won’t regret it! For some more things to do in Brno, see here. And soon I will write a post about the other things we did during our spring weekend.
Happy Easter! Veselé Velikonoce!