It’s officially spring! Tulips are my favorite flower.
And Eastertime in Czechia is in full swing. In Svoboďák, Brno’s central square, they are readying for Majáles, a student celebration of May, often with big-name concerts:
At the Easter market, pomlázky are being sold. These are “willow whips,” with colorful ribbons tied on them, for the very special Czech tradition on Easter of “whipping” women while singing a poem that should give them health, youth and fertility…
…after which, the boys/men are given decorated hard-boiled eggs, sweets, Slivovice, homemade egg nog (vaječný likér) often made with Cognac (koňak).
Two years ago over the Easter holiday, I traveled with my friend Zoe to the village of Žďiar in the High Tatras. I wanted to see more of Slovakia, and particularly to visit Ginger Monkey Hostel, which had been recommended to me and looked so cute and cozy tucked away in the mountains so famous for their ski resorts.
Little did we know it would be the ultimate authentic experience of Slovak village life, as well as an unforgettable few days.
We arrived in Žďiar at about 10pm after a perilous bus journey around many mountain bends in an intense snowstorm. If there hadn’t, luckily, been one of the hostel caretakers on the bus with us, I’m not sure we would have gotten off at the right stop or, even if we had, ever made it to the hostel, considering there was so much snow we could barely see, talk or walk.
Here’s a lone bench in the middle of a snowy hill from one of Zoe’s and my walks (I thought it might be a very spiritual place to wait for Godot).
During this trip we had lots of time for sledding, two-person snowball fights, and relaxing with the hostel’s feline and canine residents:
One night, we went to the village’s sole pizza place with our fellow Australian hostel-stayers. On our last evening, we made halušky with the same hostel caretaker that had saved us from drowning in the winter wonderland.
We walked around the village that afternoon collecting fresh ingredients from her friends, including potatoes, onions, bacon and brynza (the goat cheese without which halušky is nothing!).
She taught us how to make the gnocchi dough, then to strain it through into boiling water which cooks it, accounting for their small thin shape.
We cooked the bacon and put it in a separate bowl as topping, and feasted!
Overall, we loved our experience.
When we got back to Tišnov, both Zoe and I experienced our first Czech Easter (remember the pomlázka?)- for her, also the last, and for me, the first of more than I expected.
Since Passover and Easter often collide, Zoe, Ondra and I also made the traditional Jewish matzoh ball soup (one of my favorite foods in the whole world).
What the finished product looks like:
How are you readying for Easter? Do you have any Easter traditions specific to your country?