Non-stop traditions and customs this week in Brno
Sometimes everything happens all at once. This week has a lot of traditions, religious ceremonies and customs jammed into it — no normal days there. Photo: Pixabay
By Bruno Zalubil
Brno, Mar 25 (BD) – Clocks sprang forward one hour at 2 a.m. today on Palm Sunday. Holy Week brings out the green beer on Thursday and concludes with Easter on April Fool’s Day. And, as a bonus, the Czech Republic will not go to work on Monday in order to celebrate a pagan ritual that involves men “tapping” women with a decorated braid of willow branches.
Time Change / Palm Sunday
• First things first, move your clocks an hour ahead because this morning at 2 a.m. we have entered daylight savings time. You should already know from the loss of sleep.
• Then, because it is the Sunday before the Sunday that is after the first full moon that is on or after the vernal equinox, Palm Sunday is celebrated as the day that Jesus arrived in Jerusalem to observe Passover. This is, of course, according to First Council of Nicaea in 325. The date of Easter and Holy Week is actually more complicated and it created many controversies over the centuries. Luckily we’re not in a far-away monastery trying to figure it out for ourselves. (More complication: the Eastern Orthodox branch of Christianity, which follows a different calendar, will celebrate Easter on April 8. Sometimes the Easters on the same Sunday; this year they’re not.)
Anyway, your day starts an hour early (also a complicated explanation) and know that there will be an Easter market in náměstí Svobody all week. Read more about the markets in our article Festival at náměstí Svobody features a two-meter Easter egg.
Holy Thursday — a.k.a. Green Thursday or Maudy Thursday
The Thursday before Easter is when Jesus and his disciples gathered for a meal that was later immortalized in perhaps the most famous piece of art: The Last Supper by Leonardo Da Vinci. You know, the main plot point in “The Da Vinci Code” (both movie and book).
Trivia question: In what city is the Last Supper located?
In Brno, the day is celebrated with green beer. Some people are very pious on this day. Spinach is normally eaten.
Christ was crucified on Friday. It is known, somewhat strangely, as Good Friday in English; the Czech version translates to Big Friday. Observant Christians fast, some abstain from meat. It is also a day of penance.
The day before Easter commemorates the day that Jesus’ body lay in the tomb. You should contemplate big thoughts.
Easter is the day of resurrection. It is the most important day in the Christian calendar and local churches will be packed, such that there will be additional masses. A new paschal candle is lit for the year.
Then family dinners. Roast lamb is normally on the menu. It is traditional to have a beranek, which is a sweet cake in the shape of a ram.
So, you may ask, where does the Easter Bunny fit in? Good question. It is a secular symbol that seems to have come from the Anglo-Saxons, who held rabbits as representative of the earth. Since we’re close to Germanic-speaking lands, there are some families who will have Easter Egg hunts.
Then, as though a climax to a week of action: Velikonoční pondělí. The pagan tradition is that men and boys weave willow branches and tie a ribbon at the end (or buy them at one of the many stands that will be throughout the city center this week). It is called a pomlazka. Somehow, this crop is imbued with power.
If a male taps a female on her backside, custom has it, she will be fertile. For that service, boys are rewarded with eggs or chocolate. Men are rewarded, too, often with a shot of slivovice. In some places, after noon, girls are able to return fire with smelly mixes of fluid.
[Trivia answer: The Last Supper a mural on the wall the lunch room of the Convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan, Italy.]
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