Wednesday, March 27, 2013
Happy Ugly Wednesday. Yes, Ugly.
Czechs have specific names for the days leading up to Easter and today is Ugly Wednesday. It's possible that Wednesday is called Ugly because it's traditionally spring cleaning day, which included sweeping the chimney - and it all had to get done in one day! Another reason might be that it was the day Judas betrayed Jesus.
And of course, our traditions and superstitions...
Carpets, couches, armchairs and mattresses are carried into the open and every speck of dust beaten out of them. Women (why not men??!) scrub and wax the floors and furniture, change the curtains, wash the windows; the home is buzzing with activity.
After the interior is fully cleaned, the entire cottage is then also whitewashed on the outside as well. This has to be done quickly as everything has to be back in place by Wednesday night, glossy and shining.
This traditional spring cleaning is, of course, to make the home as neat as possible for the greatest holiday of the year, a custom taken over from the ancient Jewish practice of a ritual cleansing and sweeping of the whole house as prescribed in preparation for the Feast of Passover.
Kids finish school on Škaredá středa, which is a good idea because they need to help with all this cleaning and decorating! They also need to spend some serious time preparing for the serious days to follow, in preparation for Easter.
The Moravian houses in the Podluľí region blossom with the fleeting flowers of spring painted on the windows with soap or made on the porches or in the yards with water or sand. The window linings, wine cellar, chapel portals and rooms are also decorated with new ornaments.
There is a superstition that anyone eating honey on this day will not be bitten by serpents.
In some places, they eat bread smeared with this honey for protection against snakebite.
In other places they throw honey-buttered bread into wells so they will have water in them all year round.
Škaredá středa is the last Wednesday before Easter. On this day everyone is supposed to smile at each other. If they don't, the entire year will be a sad one. It is said that people shouldn't frown on this day for fear of frowning every Wednesday throughout the year!
So you know what to do...