Easter in the Czech Republic is a festive, fun time of year. The colorful decorations and lively Easter street markets make the springtime a great time to visit the major cities of the Czech Republic and the smaller villages that really go all out to celebrate the holiday.
Czechs across the country observe many of the same traditions, some fairly new, many steeped with years of Christian religious connotations.
Czech Easter eggs (kraslice) are the most visible symbol of Easter across the country. Typically girls decorate the eggs and give them to boys on Easter Monday, but in more modern times there are many decorated eggs for sale to tourists, as well as Easter egg decorating contests in Prague, Cheb, and other Czech cities.
Another old Czech tradition is that of braided pussywillow sticks called a pomlazka. Boys braid the pussywillow twigs and whip girls on the legs on Easter Monday (according to legend, being whipped with the pomlazka will bring youth and good health). If a girl is successfully whipped, she rewards the boy with one of her colorful Easter eggs, and a brightly colored cloth to tie on the end of the pomlazka! The colorful pomlazka are evident throughout the Czech Republic in the weeks leading up to Easter, and tourists (and locals, too!) can purchase them at nearly every Easter market.
Prague: As the capital and largest city in the Czech Republic, Prague has the largest Easter markets and the most elaborate Easter celebrations. Starting a few weeks before Easter and extending until one week past Easter, the Easter markets in Prague are packed with booths decorated with ribbons, birch twigs, flowers, and of course Easter eggs. Visitors can purchase Easter eggs, pomlazka, gifts, traditional Easter foods, and watch skilled artisans paint eggs and craft pomlazka, among other things. Entertainment includes choir groups and dancers, folk bands, and local singers and musicians, craft demonstrations, and more.
Cheb: Located near the border with Germany, Cheb is a mostly German-speaking town with a population of about 35,000 people. One of the oldest towns in the Czech Republic, the city center of Cheb is very cute, with the city laid out around the central square, called Jiriho z Podebrad – also known as Old Town. The Easter markets here are nice, and be sure to pay a visit to the numerous churches in the area, especially The Church of St. Nicholas, which was established in the 13th century. The other can’t-miss sight in Cheb is Cheb Castle, located in the Northeast part of Old Town. Built in the 12th century and now mostly in ruins, the castle does feature a restored Romanesque chapel and the 59-foot tall Black Tower.
Broumov: A small town of about 8,000 people, Broumov is located near the Czech border with Poland and has a wonderful, historic Easter market in the weeks around Easter. Broumov also has several revered Christian relics, including Eastern Europe’s only copy of the Shroud of Turin, located at the Broumov Benedictine Monastery, and the oldest wooden church in the Czech Republic, the Church of Panna Marie (the Virgin Mary).
Františkovy Lázně: The charming town of Františkovy Lázně (Franzensbad) is known throughout the world for its wonderful spas. The town center is a beautiful promenade, lined by the various spa’s that offer services created from the local sulphur-ferric peat, mud baths and mineral springs. Proponents say that the spa treatments can be used to cure everything from heart and vascular diseases to gynecological and motor system ailments. After the long winter, spa treatments in the Czech Republic are very popular, and spas in Franzensbad generally have Easter-themed spa packages for those in need of pampering.
The Czech Republic is truly a beautiful country to visit, and the best time of year to visit is during the Easter holidays. Whether it’s the Easter markets, the Easter eggs and pomlazka, or the traditional Easter foods of gingerbread, lamb-shaped cakes, or sweet rolls, visiting during Easter is a memorable time to go!
Our guest author, Randall Pinkston, is the editor of Neotravel.com, a travel deal aggregator and rental car coupon promoter. When not blogging, Randall loves traveling, spending time with his family, and voraciously reading.