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.
Czech folk legend Jarmila Šuláková, who died this week at the age of 87, brought Moravian folk music to audiences around the world. The „queen of folk“ sang from the heart as she liked to say and she had the same esprit at 30 as she did at 80, singing both with traditional folk ensembles as well as the folk-rock group Fleret which opened the world of folk music to younger audiences. In the course of a career spanning more than six decades she recorded over a dozen albums and performed thousands of concerts at home and abroad.
The great Moravian folk singer Jarmila Šuláková has died at the age of 87. Šuláková, who was born and passed away in Vsetín, performed with a number of folk groups over a long career. She sang with the Brno Radio Orchestra of Folk Instruments from 1952 to 1993, travelling throughout Czechoslovakia and to many corners of the world with the ensemble in full Wallachian folk costume.
In most respects 2016 was a good year for tourism not least in the Czech capital, which saw yet another increase in the number of visitors. But there were complications as well, among them heightened security introduced at Prague Castle mid-season which led to unexpected and unprecedented lines, at least for a time. Still, on the whole, Prague offers more and better possibilities than ever, something Radio Prague discussed with the head of Prague City Tourism, Nora Dolanská. We began by asking her first how she rated 2016 overall.
Some 65 people in Rajhrad in the area of Brno donned costumes on Christmas Day to create one of the largest live nativity scenes in Moravia, an event attended by some 500 people, the Czech News Agency reported. According to the agency, the event was held for the 16th time; some who had been toddlers when they first participated years ago were now able to play adult roles. The live event included the spoken word and Christmas carols, organiser Magda Mlejnková said. She confirmed that the weather had been ideal except for the lack of snow.
In the last twenty-five years or so, Czechs have increasingly recognized the importance of giving to charity, not only for the sake of the society, but for themselves. Many people contribute to charity regularly, but at Christmas time the urge to help others and spare a thought for the less fortunate is stronger than ever. For this Christmas special I spoke to Pavla Vopeláková, a young woman whose whole life has revolved around charity, about her work for the Czech branch of the Salvation Army, some of the special charity projects linked to Christmas
In today’s special Christmas edition of Sunday music show, we’ll be listening a live recording of a concert featuring the Moravian folk rock band Hradišťan and Spirituál kvintet, a band playing mostly American spiritual and gospel music. The album, entitled Christmas Concert, brings a mixture of spiritual, secular, classical and folk songs from across the centuries and regions, including early Czech music, songs by Czech baroque composer Adam Michna z Otradovic or Bohuslav Martinů as well as traditional American spirituals, such as such as What
In what has become an annual tradition, politicians served carp soup to the public on Prague’s Wenceslas and Old Town squares on Dec. 24. Originally the soup, which is part of the traditional Christmas meal, was intended for the homeless, but with growing interest from the public it became something of a social event with scores of people turning up to enjoy the Christmas atmosphere at the two main Christmas markets. Prague Mayor Adriana Krnáčová and Prague 1 mayor Oldřich Lomecký served over 3,000 portions of the traditional Christmas soup which is made with cognac and caramel. The event took place amid heightened security.
Over the years many Christmas programmes on Radio Prague have been dedicated to the Czech festive cuisine but there are still specialties which have been somewhat neglected and which definitely deserve more attention. Among them vánočka or Christmas sweet bread. In today’s programme we’ll be looking at this traditional type of pastry. For that I’m joined by translator Lucie Mikolajková, a mother of two and also a fine cook, who will show me how it is made.
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