Traditional Czech Easter Foods: recipes for each day
Easter, the most important of Christian holidays, symbolizes redemption, hope, and the resurrection of Christ. As is true for all big holidays, food is a big part of it.
At Easter, two opposites meet. After 40 days of Lent and temperance, it is time for food in abundance. The holiday is traditionally celebrated with dozens of different foods. Each part of the world has its own Easter specialities, and the food served often differs significantly from country to country. In the Czech lands, Easter foods and traditions developed as symbols of Christianity along with old pagan beliefs.
On Maundy Thursday (or “Green Thursday” as it is called in Czech), young boys traditionally roamed the streets with clapperboards or other rattling noisemakers. You can spice up the day by baking so-called “Judas rolls” from sourdough. The sweet bread is supposed to symbolize the rope on which Judas hung himself. According to tradition, the rolls are covered with honey and are best eaten before dawn. Doing that is supposed to guarantee good health and even protect against snake bites and hornet stings.
Good Friday brings the culmination of Lent, so it should be a day of fasting. While you do not have to go without food altogether, the meals you eat should be light and vegetarian. Fish is allowed. In the past, people who could not afford fish would at least bake mashed potatoes and shape them like fish. A typical Good Friday food was a thick sauerkraut soup with potatoes. Spinach was also part of the day’s meal. After lunch, you can pay a visit to the forest. According to folk tradition, the earth opens itself and shows its hidden treasures on this day.
On Holy Saturday, an irresistible aroma of baked stuffing fills Czech households. The stuffing is one of the richest foods of the holiday since it comes after the end of Lent. Ingredients include smoked meat, fresh eggs, and green herbs, including common nettle, which is a symbol of spring.
Easter Sunday lunch is the most plentiful meal of the holiday. The amount of prepared food was in the past mainly determined by how much each family could afford, but mostly everyone would eat some type of meat on this day. In addition to the roasted meat, an integral part of the meal is the sweet lamb cake, a symbol of Christ’s sacrifice.
The name “šmigrustovka” comes from the Easter Monday tradition of young lads “whipping” girls with pomlázkas (braided willow switches), or šmigrusts, as they are referred to in Moravia. On this day, boys will spend the morning visiting girls around town to “whip” them, which is supposed to make them healthy for the rest of the year. One ingredient of the šmirgustovka are the eggs that the boys receive from girls they visited. It is certainly a colourful food and can soothe a stomach tired from spending the morning welcoming the spring outdoors.
You will find the recipes for these specialties on our Facebook page.