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Czech Holy Week: Great Friday

Holy Friday or in Czech Velký pátek (Great Friday) is the peak of the Lent period. In the Czech Republic it’s a day of Christian as well as folkloric traditions.

The day when Jesus supposedly died on the cross is a day of great Lent. No meat is allowed and you can eat well (meaning until you’re full) only once. Usually the only meal cooked on Velký pátek was just hulled grain which is a dish almost without any taste, thus honoring the tradition of the Lent. It was not a huge sacrifice as the meals on Green Thursday were much tastier and the upcoming days also promised great feasts.

People believed that on this day the rocks and mountains opened and gave out treasures. And so the Holy Friday is a day of scavenger hunts! Of course, finding a cave or a mountain with treasure wasn’t easy, however, the nature supposedly gave people a little hint and marked the magical place with fern in bloom. But beware! As the legend of The Treasure from Karel Jaromír Erben’s The Bouquet says, whoever becomes too greedy for the treasure could loose what’s most precious to them.

There are two DON’Ts connected to this day according to our ancestors’ beliefs: You shouldn’t move the earth which means no laboring the field. The earth is mourning and it would punish you if you disturbed it. Also, no doing laundry and no lending your things to others as they could come back to you cursed.

And there are also some DOs…: The water of the rivers and forest springs has a magical power and if you take a bath right before sunrise, you’ll keep your health for the upcoming year or the water will cure your ailments. However, all the healing power will go away with the first sun beams.

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