I love this time of year because it’s heading towards sweater weather and pumpkins and apples are abundant. I love walking down the street and seeing all my neighbors’ trees dripping with fruit.
September is also special because of the Tišnovské hody! I go every year, and the first year was especially fun because everything was so new. The second time last year, I felt like I was re-experiencing everything. And the third time… well, I’m just an old pro!
For those who don’t know, hody is… not really translatable into English. It’s a festival that takes place in every village and small town depending on when the church was dedicated to the patron saint. In the town square, there is a maypole – a long pole with a tree at the top decorated with colored ribbons. In Tišnov, my town, there is a market with food, crafts, and especially burčák, with music and theatre for kids.
I arrived with my friend Julie and her twins. We had some nauseating fun on the bumper cars and then had to stare at all the sweets:
Of course, I needed to find the best burčák (a fizzy “young” wine which ferments in your stomach), so I sampled from a few different booths:
Here they claim to have the BEST burčák, having won 1st and 2nd place in a few competitions, and indeed it was delicious! You could choose if you wanted white, red, or rosé, and it wasn’t all sweetness like most burčák; you could actually taste the wine.
I also tasted from a booth where Anna, a student at the gymnázium where I teach, and her sister were selling their relatives’ burčák:
Sweeter, but also with a lot of flavor 🙂 Thanks ladies!
Back to the hody traditions. It’s custom to pardon a rooster from execution, because he has taken on all the bad deeds of the town (which are read to him during his sentencing):
This was cool for me because I understood a lot more in Czech than in previous years. ((Actually, I have begun to feel strange when I understand 100% of any conversation; it was so strange to be in London earlier this year, where I would stare uncomfortably at people because I could actually understand them, rather than because I couldn’t.))
After the town representatives make some speeches, they pass over the festivities onto the head stárek. He is the leader of a group of stárcí, boys and girls whose job is to continue the merrymaking by making wine and sweets available, as well as doing traditional Moravian dances on the square and then later in the evening at a party in the community center.
I had a really fun time even though we were dancing polka over and over again. 🙂
* * *
October two years ago, I took my first tour of Pernštejn Castle with my lovely colleague Blanka. We decided two years was the perfect mark for a follow-up!
Here I am posing in the coffee shop in the same spot nearly two years apart… look how much I’ve grown!
I really am impressed by Pernštejn, a castle which dates to the 1200s and was taken from the German Barenstein, or “Bear Stone.” The Pernštejns were, when they finished the castle in the 1600s in a Gothic and Renaissance style, the richest family in the Czech lands. It’s one of the best-preserved castles in CZ today, and many movies are filmed there.
Not to mention that Nedvědice is a beautiful village and there are some nice short hikes around the castle. Blanka and I explore different ones every time.
Plus I had the best halušky for lunch. (Halušky is the Slovak national dish, which is usually freshly-made potato gnocchi with bryndza – sheep’s cheese – and fried bacon on top, but Czechs serve the gnocchi with sauerkraut instead, with bacon on top.) It was a combination of the two!
It’s always fun to find those nooks and crannies…
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