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Czech Winter Traditions – MASOPUST (Slavic Carnival)

Czech winter traditions – MASOPUST (Slavic carnival)

Masopust is a festive period that begins after the Feast of the Three Kings and ends on Ash Wednesday. It is the period between two fasts. The name masopust is also derived from it MASO – meat and PUST- fasting.

So this was a brief explanation and now how it actually works and what happens here during the masopust.
Masopust means masks, dancing, fun, lots of food and good drinks. Weddings were often held during this period and it is still customary to organize dance parties.
One of the great traditions of this period are pig slaughters. It is a home slaughter of a pig during which the whole village usually gathers. Special dishes are prepared such as haggis, sausages, black pudding, goulash or a special soup made of pig blood and barley. And of course everybody drinks real Moravian slivovice (plum brandy).


The last week of the masopust is the most interesting – carnivals and various parties are organized in many places. There are parades of masks that run through the villages.
Some masks also have their historical origin and meaning:

Bear – oversees the harvest, women and girls must dance with it, cannot be refused
Horse, mare – symbolizes the transgressions of the past year. At the end of the carnival it’s convicted and executed which means settling all the injustices
The bride is one of the oldest forms of masks, it is mostly a disguised man.
Death – means the end of winter.
Straw masks – a lot of harvest.
Masks in uniforms – mostly firefighters, soldiers of all kinds, police officers. They fine, rebuke and oversees “order”.
Animal masks represent the strength and cunning of animals.

The carnivals ended the night before Ash Wednesday  when the night watchman blew his horn. The next day (on Ash Wednesday) lard rolls with coffee or milk were consumed for the last time and brandy was still allowed in the morning. Lunch, however, was already strictly fasting.

Today, traditions are no longer followed which is related to the small percentage of believers in our country. But masopust is still very popular especially the part where there is a lot of food and drinks.

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