Czech folk customs are based on Christian or pagan tradition, moreover, often they differ from region to region. In cities nowadays they maintain less, but in villages and especially in the Moravian-Silesian regions are still very much alive.
The most famous motto for the day is: “How on New Year’s Day and throughout the year.” On New Year is traditionally serve lentils or peas to ensure multiplication of money. Czechs don’t cook poultry so that luck couldn’t fly away. January 1st is also national holiday – Day of Recovery of the Independent Czech State.
It is a three-day celebration, which begins a forty-day Lent ended on Easter. Preparation for the carnival was preceded by the so-called “Fat Thursday” – “fat” because people should eat as much as possible before Lent. The culmination of this holiday is Shrove Tuesday, when they are held parades of masked and theatre performances. Czechs bake god’s grace (boží milosti) and carnival donuts (masopustní koblihy).
On Maundy Thursday, it is customary to eat spinach. The church bells ring for the last time because then they “fly to Rome”. Then the bells shall be silent until Holy Saturday. In many places, there was a superstition that when the bell ring for the last time, man has jingle money to stay or become rich. Czechs bake a special ceremonial bread from yeast dough called Judas (jidáše in Czech). Their shape symbolizes the rope with which Judas hanged himself.
The Good Friday is linked to a belief in the magical power of the country and the miracles that are happening that day. According to folk tradition on Good Friday opened the ground to a short while revealing hidden treasures. Therefore, this day could not move the ground did not perform any work on the field. The evening was in the woods, with castle ruins and other abandoned places to see treasure hunters. Usually, on Good Friday also play theatre – the passion plays. In Christianity is this day considered as a day of Christ’s crucifixion. This day should be fasting or at least not to eat meat.
Holy Saturday is the last day of the forty days of Lent. Before the entrance to the church was consecrated fire. This tradition was called “burning of Judas”. To these days has retained the habit to worn candles to church, which are sanctified by covering the sanctioned Paschal candle. In households is baked Easter stuffing.
Traditionally is baked Easter bread – lamb. The lamb was brought to the church with Easter cake, eggs, bread and wine to be consecrated by a priest. Another typical dish is Easter cake, in Czech mazanec. Traditional lunch must contain meat broth or meat.
In the Christian tradition, Easter Sunday is the biggest festival of the church year in which they celebrate Christ’s resurrection and victory over death. Easter is a moveable feast, which is celebrated on the first Sunday after the first full moon after March 21 (i.e. after the vernal equinox).
Easter Monday is a day of relaxation and festivity, celebration of new life. It is a holiday that is related both to the Christian tradition of the resurrection of Christ and with the pagan traditions of the transition of winter to spring. Boys flick girls walking with Easter Caroling (twisted rods decorated with ribbons, which carry life-giving sap of trees in the human body) to be in force throughout the year healthy and cheerful. As a reward, they get the boys from the girls painted Easter eggs (kraslice in Czech). Thus on Monday is cooked eggs on all ways.
Feast of deceased are remembered on November 1st and 2nd since 998. In some villages in this day was baked special bread called “Souls” given for beggars and wanderers. Today, for the memory of the dead, we lay flowers and wreaths on the graves and light candles. All Souls Day is the equivalent of the American Halloween.
“St. Martin arrives on a white horse “- this saying refers to the feast of St. Martin’s day, when it should fall first snow. Traditionally lunch on this day is St. Martin’s goose. In recent years increased popularity of the renewed tradition of opening young Czech” St. Martin’s “wine, (like French Beaujolais Nouveau).
Pig-slaughtering belong among the ancient Czech traditions. The pig was bred and fattened at home. Pig was killed to the family had enough supplies for the winter. Pig-slaughtering take place in the winter months. From spring to autumn people worked in the fields, so they had not time to feast. Another reason is that the pig-killing specialties are sensitive to hot weather, so in the summer would be easily spoiled.
The menu usually varies from region to region. The first thing most guests come to the table, is the pork jowl. It is from the meat from the head, knee or shoulder, boil and neck. To the water is added salt, allspice, bay leaf, cumin, sometimes a little root vegetables and onions and the meat is cooked until tender. Served with fresh bread, mustard and horseradish.
The meat that is left is used as raw material in the manufacture of other dishes – white pudding and brawn. Cooked meat chop almost to mash, add it to the raw liver and spices, salt and garlic and create the mixture – black sausage meat, which is filled into carefully cleaned casings with the assistance of the piston and finish using skewers.
Then we prepare and fill with more brawn. We use pork stomachs or intestines (already manufactured and artificial) for a filling. The gelation we add the boiled skin. We also can add a blood to have black brawn.
One of the most important dishes is pig-slaughtering soup. It gains strength gradually, because in the soup first boiled pork jowl, then white pudding and brawn. The blood is added as well.
To another delicacy belongs a pig-killing goulash. That includes not only meat but also the liver, kidney, tongue, heart and brain. It should be thick and seasoned with marjoram. It is served with bread.
Other dishes are sausages, smoked meat and paste. We must not forget the lard, which is usually rendered down to the end. From the lard is made cracklings, which can be eaten alone or even as a spread.
The main Christmas holiday is in the Czech Republic a Christmas Eve. In this day in the Czech households you can encounter with fairy tales, mistletoe, Christmas cake and of course with a decorated Christmas tree. At the Christmas Day governs many traditions – day fast (who will abide by it, will see tonight golden pig), pouring lead (fortunetelling the shape of the molded piece) or throwing a shoe (if it falls toe to the door, the girl a year to marry). For lunch they eat vegetarian food – peas, barley or mushroom pie.
When the first star comes out, families sit for Christmas dinner. As a festive meal is served fish soup and fried carp with potato salad. In the end is served the traditional Christmas sweet. After dinner the family gather around the Christmas tree, under which Jesus handing out gifts.
December 25 is celebrated the first Christmas Day – Christmas Day. Families gather for dinner together – mainly eaten roast duck or goose, dumplings and sauerkraut (recipe for a goose you can find in this article as a St. Martin November goose).
December 26 is celebrated the second Christmas Day – St. Stephen day. On this day they went from house to house caroling carolers – sing and wish health and success in management. For carols received fruit, money, or an invitation to sit in the house.
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