So! Spring is a great time to be in Prague, especially for the past few days. Despite the yucky weather, Prague has been hopping with events as people catch spring fever.
Last night, April 30th, was the yearly Witch Burning Night (or WBN as I, the lazy blogger, will now be calling it). WBN is a night that celebrates the burning of all the witches in Prague- better known as the Inquisition, or, to some, religious persecution.
Or maybe they just love Monty Python?
There’s also the possibility that WBN comes from Beltane, a pagan festival meant to celebrate the end of winter and the return of the sun. Personally, I lean towards this explanation, as it dovetails with what many of my students have said to me.
WBN is celebrated by making bonfires in parks. There is music, and food, and a lot of women dressed up like witches. Which, if you think about it, is kind of like asking to be set on fire. We didn’t see any witches burned last night but we DID listen to some excellent Czech folk music, and there was a bonfire. And a bunch of dudes roasting sausages.
Today, the first of May, is also a holiday in Prague. There are a couple of angles to this celebration. May 1st is Labor Day, which means that most businesses are closed. WOO HOO NO WORK! *ahem* There is also a student component to the holiday that I haven’t quite figured out yet. But I did see a pretty sweet student parade today, which included, among other things, a giant dildo, a wheelbarrow full of beer, and about 20 people chanting “Allen Ginsburg!”
May 1st also celebrates luuuuuurve. According to lore, women in Prague must be kissed underneath the cherry blossoms in order to stay beautiful for the rest of the year. However, I’ve also heard that women will die within 12 months if they are not kissed. Ladies: You should probably go make out now, just to be safe.