Photo Challenge: Graceful


I remember my first time at the hody, a Czech celebration that takes place in villages and towns at whatever time of the year their local church was dedicated to the patron saint Václav, or Wenceslas. There’s no way to translate it into English except as the generalized “festival,” but I think that the word “hody” itself sounds very festive. Lighthearted. I came to the square in Tišnov and saw the mája (the tree in the photo, pronounced “maaya”) standing tall and upright in the center. Taller than 20 of me (okay maybe not that many). Taller than 5 of me. Its colorful streamers blew in the breeze above stands selling medovina (honey mead), local burčák (young, fizzy wine), personalized gingerbread hearts, fresh cheese, and all kinds of toys and crafts for children. It swayed above the dancing stárci, volunteers from the town who lead the celebration in traditional costumes and go around offering casks of wine to their fellow merrymakers.

Suddenly, a cloud blocked the sun and I could look up at the thin, graceful trunk of the mája without squinting.

I was wearing a sweater though the weather had hit that sweet spot between end-of-summer warm and autumn cool, but as the breeze blew across my face, I smiled. September 2014. I had been in Czech Republic for about a month, and it was my first feeling of belonging in my new Czech home, of feeling I was exactly where I should be. I said to myself, Sure, I could get used to this.

In my third year, I haven’t missed a local hody yet, and frequently attend those in surrounding villages at different parts of the year.

In response to the Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge with the word “Graceful.”

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