The Czech Tradition of Čarodějnice (Witches).

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).”

Continuing Pre-Christian Traditions in the Czech Republic by Ivy Helman

20151004_161012Pelišky was one of the first movies I watched in the Czech Republic.  It takes place in the year (maybe years) before the Soviet Occupation.  It follows the lives and struggles of ordinary families.  One of the best and funniest scenes takes place at a small post-wedding dinner.  The couple receives some new-fangled plastic spoons as a wedding present.  The gift-giver is very proud of the fact that they were made in Eastern Germany.  One of the characters stirs her tea with the spoon and is about to lick it but as she takes it out of the hot tea it bends as if it was made of rubber.  Soon the scene dissolves into arguments, frustrations and disappointments.

Another memorable scene I remember was around New Year’s Day.  An older couple pour melted aluminum into a bowl of water then pull it out and examine its shape in an attempt to divine what the new year will hold.  Neither can agree on its shape or its meaning. Continue reading “Continuing Pre-Christian Traditions in the Czech Republic by Ivy Helman”

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