This post is a follow-up, in a way, to the post I published here on September 11, 2016, entitled “Continuing Pre-Christian Traditions in the Czech Republic,” and will be a combination photo essay* and elaboration on one of the rituals mentioned in that first post. On April 30th, I was in the small village where my partner’s family has their summer house. Yes, that same village that has inspired posts like this. There, we celebrated Čarodějnice, or Witches. This holiday seems to be related to what is called May Day or Beltane in other countries. What is unique about this tradition isn’t necessarily the májka (May Pole) although it is different than other places May Pole, but the burning of the witch.
Throughout the day, everything is gendered. The women and girls have certain tasks; the men and boys have too. The women and girls create and decorate. First, they create a witch to be burned on a large bonfire; the construction and shape of both can vary. After creating the witch, the women and girls (although it should be virgins – but no one really follows that tradition) decorate the top of a cut-down, very tall pine tree with strips of brightly colored fabric and crepe paper, tying them on to create what will become vertical streamers blowing in the wind, thus creating what is called a májka.Continue reading “The Czech Tradition of Čarodějnice (Witches).”