Witches’ Night

For some reason, the Czech Republic actually has a holiday devoted to burning witches on the night of April 31-May 1… Witches’ Night. Even more crazy, it is a public holiday. Still crazier, the primary schools of Hradec Kralove decided to give an additional two days off to students, since the holiday fell on a Wednesday. Ok, in all seriousness, it is a holiday for the Czech Labor Day. But it still meant I had Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday off last week!

I did a lot of things on my five day holiday, but I spent the actual holiday itself in the mountainous city of Vrchlabi. Located in the midst of the Krkonoše mountains, it is an idyllic small town where my Czech friend Jana is from. She drove Ari and I to her home and invited us to stay the night and celebrate in style.

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Witch by night.
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Witch by day.

 

We attended a small concert at a local bar, where they had a ceremonial witch built out of an old Christmas tree, a pile of straw, and some old clothes. As soon as the sun set, they set this little creature on fire, and she was burned to a smoldering campfire in only a few seconds.

Apparently there is more meaning to Witches’ Night other than just setting witches on fire. It is supposed to be a symbolic representation of the death of winter and the rebirth of spring. It is also a holiday of LOVE! Prior to the American invention of Valentine’s Day, Czechs apparently used May 1 as their day of romantic interludes. It is said that if you see a blossoming cherry tree, you must be kissed underneath it – I guess sort of like mistletoe.

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The town of Vrchlabi
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Walking some cute beasts in the mountains.

After a night of drinking, late night kebabs, and a strange green minty shot, we awoke to take a tour of the city. In the town center, a stage had been set up, and a community jazz band played some good big band tunes. We watched for a while and then continued on to the park and castle. Afterwards, we headed back to the square where a more professional jazz band from Poland had taken the reins, and stopped at a cafe for drinks and some lunch. To top the day off, all of the youth dancers of the town put on a performance.

We headed back to Jana’s house in merry spirits and then took her dogs for a walk along the countryside. She has three large and in charge hounds that are all extremely lovable. It was almost like a scene from the Sound of Music, with the rolling mountains and beautiful green fields all around us.

Returning home, we had a short tea break, and then it was time to return to HK. So while I didn’t find a man to kiss under a cherry tree or find a real witch to burn, I would say it was a successful Witches’ Night.

Kristy Snyder

I'm a creative and quirky woman just looking to make her mark on the world. Writer, thinker, crafter, doer. Loves playing ice hockey and curling up with a good book. Traveling is a foremost passion and the road is always calling. Above all, I try to be an enjoyer of life.

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