Masopust (Mardi Gras) celebrations are culminating in many parts of the
country ahead of Ash Wednesday.
The annual carnival in which people dress up in masks and costumes traditionally takes place between the Epiphany and Ash Wednesday, which falls on March 6th this year, when the pre-Easter forty day fast begins.
Although few Czechs observe the fast these days, the Masopust celebrations which were seen as the last chance to eat heartily and make merry for over a month, are extremely popular.
If you visit the Czech countryside at the start of the year you are likely to receive an invitation to attend a "zabijačka" – in other words a pig-slaughter feast; a centuries old tradition that is still observed in many parts of the country. While for some it is a barbaric practice that has no place in the present-day, for others it is an important part of village folklore that brings people together.
Masopust celebrations have been held in various parts of Prague. The annual
carnival in which many people dress up in masks and costumes was marked on
Saturday in districts including Letná and Karlín. Next week the Mardi
Gras-like celebrations will take place in Malá Strana, Žižkov and other
parts of the city.
Masopust has traditionally occurred between the Epiphany (January 6) and Ash Wednesday, when the pre-Easter Lenten period begins.
Carnival celebrations have been taking place all around the Czech Republic in recent days to mark the approaching end of winter and the beginning of the fasting period of Lent. Although Masopust is celebrated in different ways in different parts of the country, one thing they all have in common is the procession of masks. Radio Prague paid a visit to a small company in Zákupy, North Bohemia, which has been making traditional carnival masks for more than 130 years:
Mardi Gras celebrations have been taking place around the country ahead of Ash Wednesday. The Czech Republic may be one of the most secular countries in Europe but Czechs love to observe traditions and while few people are likely to fast during the 40 day Lent period they celebrate Mardi Gras (or Masopust as it is called in Czech) with a vengeance.
The Czech Republic has been marking “masopust” or the traditional Czech carnival which comes before the fasting period of Lent. Processions of people wearing colorful masks and costumes on Saturday marched through a number of villages and towns across the country, celebrating the beginning of Lent, which is traditionally accompanied by a zabijačka or pig-slaughter. One of the biggest event took place in the town of Roztoky u Prahy, with more than two thousand people attending the costumed parade to nearby Únětice.
A record number of visitors on Saturday came to see the carnival at the open-air museum at Veselý Kopec, near Hlinsko in eastern Bohemia. More than 2,000 people watched a group of young men from a village called Vortová, performing a procession with masks. The centuries-old folk tradition, which remained intact in several communities in the area, was added to the UNESCO list of world heritage in 2010.