The international service of Czech Radio 
25-9-2021, 06:12 UTC

The Easter holidays symbolize the end of winter and the beginning of spring and have, just as the Christmas holidays, pagan roots. The pagan Slavs and Germans celebrated the beginning of Spring as the awakening of nature from its winter sleep. The Jews of this period celebrated their own great holiday - Passover, the Holiday of Mercy, in remembrance of the liberation of the Israelites from Egypt.

Even before the days of Christianity the symbol of the lamb was widespread in Mediterranean culture, with its long pastoral tradition. For Christian churches the lamb came to symbolize the Lamb of God - Jesus Christ. In the southern Czech Sumava Mountains there used to be a tradition that blessing a lamb would help wayfarers to find their way through the forests. These days lamb is rarely eaten in the Czech Republic, but this does not mean that lamb has disappeared completely from Czech Easter celebrations. It still appears in the form of a cake.

The hand-painted or otherwise decorated egg is is the most recognizable symbol of Czech Easter. Girls decorate Easter eggs to give them to boys on Easter Monday. There are many Easter egg decorating techniques. Different materials can be used, such as bee's wax, straw, watercolors, onion peels, picture stickers. There are no limitations to creating pretty, colorful eggs. Traditionally, Easter eggs, hard-boiled eggs dyed bright red to symbolize the spilt Blood of Christ and the promise of eternal life, are cracked together to celebrate the opening of the Tomb of Christ.

It is often said that the Czech Republic is a land of atheists. This is true to a certain extent, but there are many cases in which religious traditions have left their mark on Czech life. Easter is one such occasion. Easter, as with Christmas and other such religious holidays, originally has pagan roots. It takes place each year around about the time of the spring equinox. In the Christian Church, Easter signifies the deliverance of the world from evil; this is linked with the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.

This year Easter Sunday falls on April 12. How is Easter celebrated in the Czech Republic? Which Czech Easter traditions are alive to this day? Find out on these pages.
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