Monday, April 21, 2014

Easter can be very naughty!

Easter Monday (Pondělí velikonoční) is the day we tend to celebrate Easter.  It's a day off from work (amen!) as well as the day of the pomlázka!  

In the morning, men boys walk from door to door to spank girls on their legs with their whip.  The whipping is rather symbolic, you see.  The Easter whip, the pomlázka, comes from the word "pomladit", which means  "make younger".  It's believed that the freshness, youth and strength of the twigs is passed to the women on this day.  Thus, every woman wants to be whipped in order to keep her health and beauty during the coming year.  Unvisited females may even feel offended, therefore it's almost a duty for all boyfriend and husbands to whip their woman with the Easter whip!

The boys accompany the whipping with a special Easter carol, usually asking for an egg or two.  The girls "reward" them with an Easter egg or tie a ribbon on their whip (um, I am making this out to be very, very naughty).

The more eggs or ribbons a boy has, the better (oh...my)

For boys men, instead of eggs the "reward" is a shot of alcohol, mostly homemade brandy.  And of course, the point is to visit quite possibly all of the girls in town (that's a lot of random ribbons on their whip), thus around noon, groups of happy  ecstatic men can be seen in the streets singing Easter carols and chasing women.

But don't think the girls don't get to have any fun!  In the afternoon, they get their revenge by pouring a bucket of ice cold water on any male they wish!

My man's whip is ready to go...and I'm looking forward to it!






Sunday, April 20, 2014

Friday, April 18, 2014

Good Friday and it's many Czech superstitions

In the Czech Republic, Great Friday (Velký pátek) is the popular name for what most call "Good Friday".  Velký pátek is a day of fasting for Roman Catholics who will not eat meat until Saturday evening after the church bells start ringing on their legendary return from Rome.

 On Velký pátek, we prepare our holiday bread (mazanec), which must not be cut or eaten until the priest says, "Christ is risen!" (Kristus vstal z mrtvých!) on Easter Sunday.  It is a universal custom to make a new loaf of bread with the sign of the cross before cutting it in order to bless it and thank God for it.  Bread baked on Velký pátek - if hardened in the oven - can be kept all year, and its presence protects the house from fire.


There are many (surprise surprise!) superstitions associated with Velký pátek.  Although Praguers have gotten away from some of the annual traditions, people in small villages still practice time-honored rituals.  These customs, dating back to at least the first century, are designed to bring health and happiness to the participants throughout the following year.

We're a superstitious bunch aren't we!?  I have to admit that I won't allow laundry to hang dry on Velký pátek, and I also won't eat meat, but these traditions are a little harder to adhere to:
  • Women carry out their quilts to air out in order to chase illnesses out of the house.
  • Some believe that water dipped before sunrise without a spoken word has healing power and will stay pure all year.
  • People get up very early on this day and hurry down to the brook (or stream... or river) where they wash themselves with cold water and then cross the brook with bare legs because they believe that this ensures good health for the entire next year.
  • People also take their daughters down to wash at the well so that they'll be pretty and well spoken for.
 It's also believed that water sprites come out onto dry land on Velký pátek.  Water Sprites are a story for another day, but if you come across this guy...

A few more interesting beliefs and superstitions are:
  • Work.  Just don't do it!!  I'm not sure if it's out of genuine respect for the religious festival, or from superstitious fears that to do it will somehow bring misfortune.  According to an old Czech saying, "Na Velký pátek zemi nehýbej", which translates to, "On Great Friday, do not move the soil."
  • Supposedly, the weather for the whole year is foretold by the weather on Velký pátek.  For instance, if it rains on Velký pátek, then the rest of the year will be dry.  Another saying is "Velký pátek deštivý dělává rok žíznivý", which means, "A rainy Great Friday makes for a thirsty year."
  • On Velký pátek, according to legend, anyone can look upon the sun without being blinded by its glare 
 There are several legends associated with Velký pátek as well, and the one I find romantic yet disturbing is this one:  High up in the mountains amidst the cliffs there is a stone figure of a maiden.  She is seated and holds in her lap an unfinished shirt, also of stone.  Eash year, on Velký pátek, at the hour of the Passion, she sews a stitch:  one year, one stitch.  When the shirt is finished, the world will end.  Everything under the sun will die, and Judgement Day will be at hand. 
Let's hope she never finishes that shirt!!!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Get out your rattles, boys!

Not that rattle!  This rattle...

 Picture
Photo courtesy of The Easter Project

Yes, what looks like a wheelbarrow is actually a rattle said to chase away evil spirits.  And being that today is Zelený čtvrtek (Green Thursday), all you males out there get to keep this tradition alive.

What?  You don't own one of these? GASP!  Any old rattle will do... now go make some noise!




Wednesday, April 16, 2014

I have returned from the throes of the sea...



Well, not really anything so severe, much to my relief.  My profession took over, and I vow to NOT let that happen again.  Changes are being made because no one controls ones destiny but oneself.

Sorry to get all deep on you.

On a lighter note, Easter is here!  I love the "springtime" feeling that comes along with Easter...the warmer weather (hopefully) and seeing the colorful tulips, hyacinths and daffodils... how can one not be happy?

I'll be baking an Easter mazanec again, as well as trying my hand at the beránek:

We'll see how that goes.

Apparently, the tradition of baking this sweet lamb goes way, way back.  They say that the Jewish folk of ancient times prepared bread in the shape of a lamb.  And yes, I do own the mold to bake said beránek.  When I stumbled upon the mold last year you would have thought I won the lottery.  If this beránek turns out well (ie, in one piece) and I can keep Czech tradition alive, well then in a way, I did.



Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Happy 97th Birthday, DinDin!

Happy 97th Birthday, DinDin!  
I almost sent you a card like I did every year, but this year it would have been addressed to Heaven.

I miss you more than you would ever understand...and love you more than you could possibly ever know.
Always by my side, always in my heart...

I light a candle for you, my DinDin

Friday, October 18, 2013

Lulu z Honolulu

Last weekend while sitting at a hospoda with some locals, I was introduced to this Czech song, which has been stuck in my head since...

Now I share it with you




Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Designblok 2013 - What A Girl Wants

That time of year is here!  No, not the time of year when we start to get ready for the holiday season, but the time of year when I return to my "roots", as I call it. Yes, I am in CZ again and eager to consume Prague in one fell swoop...

and that starts with sparkly shiny things
VIRUS_Zdenek-Vacek_Daniel-Posta

02_ZORYA_VIRUS_f_Kristina_Hrabetova
Designblok 2013 is happening now through Sunday and part of it includes presentations by fashion and jewelry designers.  Not only are these items on display, but there is also a pop-up shop!  Yes, a pop-up shop...and I hope to walk away with a unique creation as my heart has fallen in love with pieces by Zorya.
I should (and I will) go to the art exhibits, too...but can't a girl start with sparkly things first?



Monday, August 5, 2013

Oh how I miss thee...

Rybíz
(red currant)

Growing up my father and grandfather planted rybíz in our garden, and I remember hand-picking it with my my mom and having her or my grandmother back a delicious koláč out of them... like this one (just that this is not one she baked... I borrowed this pic from the internet). Thank you Blesk pro Ceny.cz - I will be trying your recipe and it best taste like mom's.  
Ilustrační foto

And mommy, if you are reading this, I say we back a lot of koláče together when I visit.  I am craving this delicious pastry and may start drooling just thinking about it ...just like my English Bulldog does.




Sunday, August 4, 2013

A beloved 4-letter word...

Pivo.

Pivo means beer.

Czech and pivo go hand-in-hand.

Czechpivo should almost just be one complete word.  In a dictionary even.

We Czechs love our pivo.

And I will prove it:

Take a look at this map showing our breweries Pividky.cz

Now do you believe me?

Drink.  Czech.  Beer.  

That is all.







  

Saturday, August 3, 2013

It's a bird...It's a plane...It's Superman! (no, it really is)

I'd say he's living out a childhood superhero dream...
(AP)

Perhaps I should find a way to live out my childhood superhero dream...

From The Prague Daily Monitor:
Look up in a sky. It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s … a guy in a Speedo wearing a cape and jumping off a 27-meter high platform by posing like Superman!


Czech diver Michal Navratil closed the inaugural high dive event at the FINA World Championships in Barcelona by performing his patented Superman dive from the vertigo-inducing platform used the in extreme diving event. He had the cape, the music and, of course, the pose.

The 28-year-old Navratil finished fourth in the competition, which is of little consequence when you can leap tall buildings in a single bound.


Thursday, August 1, 2013

Do you know this man?

Do you know this man?

Neither did I (should I hang my head in shame?). He is Carlos Relvas (1838-1894), a founding figure of Portuguese photography.  And between this photo of him and his work, I like this man... and am honored to now know of him.

I feel as though he takes photos of what makes him happy.  Not that I know, that is just what his photos make me feel
Landscape. Portugal, 1876-1878, New toned print from collodion wet plate negative
Landscape. Portugal, 1876-1878

Sheep, ca 1870, New toned print from stereoscopic collodion negative
Sheep, ca 1870, New toned print from stereoscopic collodion negative

So to all of my creative friends in Prague and anyone else who's artistic, check out his work at Galerie Rudolfinum now through September 15th.  Read more about Carlos and the exhibit at PragueTV 



Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Summer Summer Summertime

You may want to listen to this summertime tune while reading...

Yes, that is DJ Jazzy Jeff... we're takin' it back to summer 1991

With temps reaching the mid to high 30's (celsius my friends, celsius), Czechs are rushing to what I lovingly call the Czech-version-of-a-beach to cool off.  Rivers, reservoirs, pools, ponds, plastic baby pools ...anything cool and wet and refreshing during these dog days of summer.  


(For those of you wondering, here's an easy way to convert celsius to fahrenheit:  multiply by 9, divide by 5, then add 32). 

I happen to like math.  

I feel your eyes shooting daggers at me right now.

Czechs at Divoká Šárka, a natural reserve, just outside of Prague.  

There is a public pool (water from the Šárka spring creek that passes through) in the middle of this natural reserve.  


Quite nice, don't you agree?  

But wait!  

Did you really think that a fable (or, err...a truth) would not be attached to a mere watering hole?  Silly, reader!  Divoká Šárka contains a gorge that is named after the warrior Šárka, who, according to mythology, threw herself to her death from its cliffs.  


And if you're lucky, you may spot the Black Woodpecker... this area is the closest to the city of Prague where they live

Read the full article at Radio Prague HERE

A sincere THANK YOU to two special people

Where have I been, dear readers?
That is a question that even I can not answer.  I ADORE writing on this blog and sharing my love of all things Czech with you, but I guess you can say that somewhere along the way I got sidetracked, somewhere along the way I got too wrapped up in work (so cliché, isn't it?).  Sadly, is true.

Recently I shared my blog with a lovely couple who may be visiting, and hopefully living for a while, in my beloved city of Prague.  The excitement I felt when they shared this information with me, and the kind words I received after they perused the blog, reignited my passion.  It never left me, gasp oh no!, it just needed to come forth again.

You two know who you are... and I thank you dearly!

As we would end anything in Czech....

Here's to you!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

happy Birthday to my beloved Grandmother

Today is my beloved grandmother's birthday and I want her to know that she is in my thoughts daily, and in my heart forever.

I love you, Babi!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Sweet fur babies need a loving forever home

Please help if you can. Two very sweet kitties need to find their forever home. 

They are outdoor cats, but not feral at all and love people.  They think a home we rent to guests is theirs, which doesn't go over with the guests, sadly. 

I would keep them myself, but already have a full house of cats and a dog, but I also don't want to see them taken away to a shelter :-(   They'd be so sad and wouldn't understand and truly do deserve a loving forever home.  Email me diamondheaddogs@gmail.com 

There are 2 of them, one is black & white, and this sweet boy...


Sunday, March 31, 2013

Happy Easter from my home to all of yours


Happy Easter, everyone!

I have to tell you about the strangest, yet funniest, Easter tradition that we have! ...
The "pomlázka" is a traditional whip braided out of pussywillows (or other springtime branches) that men and boys of all ages plait on Easter Sunday (or they buy them at almost any shop around this time of the year). The pomlázka can be any length and braided from three to twelve branches.  The origin of the pomlázka tradition (pomlázka meaning both the whip and the tradition itself) dates back to pagan times.  Its original purpose and symbolic meaning is to chase away illness and bad spirits and bring health and youth for the rest of the year to everyone who is whipped.  In the past, pomlázka was not only used by boys to whip girls (um, I should clarify...they whip them on the legs...no dirty thoughts!!!), but also by the farmer's wife to whip the livestock, as well as everyone in the household, including men and children. 
Boys would whip girls lightly on the legs and possibly douse them with water, which had a similar symbolic meaning.  An Easter carol, usually asking for an egg or two, would be recited by the boy while whipping.  The girl would then reward the boy with a painted egg or candy and tie a ribbon around his pomlázka.  As the boys progressed through the village, their bags filled up with eggs and their pomlázkas were adorned with more and more colorful ribbons.
Although it may have lost its symbolism and romance and is now performed mainly for fun, this tradition is still largely upheld, especially in villages and small towns.  Some boys and men seem to have forgotten that the whipping is supposed to be only symbolic and girls don't always like that.  The reward has also changed - money and shots of plum brandy (Slivovice) are often given instead of, or in addition to, painted eggs and candy.  As you can imagine, by early afternoon groups of happy men can be seen staggering along the roads!  All that aside, Easter still remains one of the most joyful and fun holidays on the Czech calendar.

The Color Red
Red and other bright colors symbolize health, joy, happiness and new life that comes with the spring.  So paint those Easter eggs red!


All in all, Easter is a time of high spirits and happy celebrations in small villages.  I wish you all a joyful day and a very Happy Easter! 

Veselé Velikonoce!

Saturday, March 30, 2013

White Saturday

Today is White Saturday (Bílá sobota), a day when boys walk through the village with rattles on until residents at each house give them money (hmmm, if only it were so easy!)

There's so much more to White Saturday though.  It is regarded, along with Zelený čtvrtek (Green Thursday), as a lucky day for sowing. The farmers place ashes on their fields to ensure a good crop, and shake the trees, so that they'll yield a lot of fruit.

White Saturday used to be a day of peace and quiet.  Daytime church services were not held at all, and services were held instead either in the evening hours after the sun went down, or after midnight.  Only blessed candles and lights were used in the church during these nighttime services.  Because of the Virgin Mary's faith in His promise to rise again from the dead, the day is consecrated to her.


Easter picture by Josef Lada

They say that if it rains on Bílá sobota, it will rain often during the coming year.  Well, it's sunny and warm where I am... nice!

If you're in the Czech Republic on Bílá sobota, take time to stand a while in front of the church in Domaľlice, Kyjov, Blatnice, Břeclav or Vlčnov and enjoy the ceremonial costumes of the women and girls.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Good Friday comes with...superstitions!

In the Czech Republic, Great Friday (Velký pátek) is the popular name for what most call "Good Friday".  Velký pátek is a day of fasting for Roman Catholics who will not eat meat until Saturday evening after the church bells start ringing on their legendary return from Rome.

 On Velký pátek, we prepare our holiday bread (mazanec), which must not be cut or eaten until the priest says, "Christ is risen!" (Kristus vstal z mrtvých!) on Easter Sunday.  It is a universal custom to make a new loaf of bread with the sign of the cross before cutting it in order to bless it and thank God for it.  Bread baked on Velký pátek - if hardened in the oven - can be kept all year, and its presence protects the house from fire.


There are many (surprise surprise!) superstitions associated with Velký pátek.  Although Praguers have gotten away from some of the annual traditions, people in small villages still practice time-honored rituals.  These customs, dating back to at least the first century, are designed to bring health and happiness to the participants throughout the following year.

We're a superstitious bunch aren't we!?  I have to admit that I won't allow laundry to hang dry on Velký pátek, and I also won't eat meat, but these traditions are a little harder to adhere to:
  • Women carry out their quilts to air out in order to chase illnesses out of the house.
  • Some believe that water dipped before sunrise without a spoken word has healing power and will stay pure all year.
  • People get up very early on this day and hurry down to the brook (or stream... or river) where they wash themselves with cold water and then cross the brook with bare legs because they believe that this ensures good health for the entire next year.
  • People also take their daughters down to wash at the well so that they'll be pretty and well spoken for.
 It's also believed that water sprites come out onto dry land on Velký pátek.  Water Sprites are a story for another day, but if you come across this guy...

A few more interesting beliefs and superstitions are:
  • Work.  Just don't do it!!  I'm not sure if it's out of genuine respect for the religious festival, or from superstitious fears that to do it will somehow bring misfortune.  According to an old Czech saying, "Na Velký pátek zemi nehýbej", which translates to, "On Great Friday, do not move the soil."
  • Supposedly, the weather for the whole year is foretold by the weather on Velký pátek.  For instance, if it rains on Velký pátek, then the rest of the year will be dry.  Another saying is "Velký pátek deštivý dělává rok žíznivý", which means, "A rainy Great Friday makes for a thirsty year."
  • On Velký pátek, according to legend, anyone can look upon the sun without being blinded by its glare 
 There are several legends associated with Velký pátek as well, and the one I find romantic yet disturbing is this one:  High up in the mountains amidst the cliffs there is a stone figure of a maiden.  She is seated and holds in her lap an unfinished shirt, also of stone.  Eash year, on Velký pátek, at the hour of the Passion, she sews a stitch:  one year, one stitch.  When the shirt is finished, the world will end.  Everything under the sun will die, and Judgement Day will be at hand. 
Let's hope she never finishes that shirt!!!