Čarodějnice, or Witches Night, is this weekend in the Czech Republic. Burning witches dates back to pagan times, but the practice is still celebrated today. Read below to learn more about this tradition and a unique aspect of Czech culture.
April 30th has been deemed Witches Night for centuries. Old pagan superstitions say witches gathered in the mountains on this day. They were only expelled by burning fires in the hills. The tradition evolved into more of a cultural practice. The witch became a symbol for winter – so burning witches is a way to signify the end of winter and the coming of spring.
Today, an effigy of a witch is placed atop a large bonfire. The fire is then lit, engulfing the witch with it. Each Czech town and village has a different custom for their witches. For some, the witch is built atop of the bonfire and present when the spark ignites. For others, a bonfire is pre lit and the witch is paraded through the streets to meet its fate. In modern times, festivals are held to celebrate this tradition. Prague itself hosts a number of festivals – offering something for everyone. Kids, adults, locals, and tourists alike can all take part in this Czech tradition to celebrate winter’s end!
The following festivals will take place this Sunday, April 30th, here in Prague:
- Ladronka – This festival at Ladronka park in Prague 6 will be one of this year’s biggest. The festivities run all day starting at 12:00pm. The event will feature live music, games and activities, food, refreshments, and of course a witch burning.
- Žluté Lázně – this recreational area will host a Čarodějnice festival this year. The event will kick off at 11:00am and run until the witch burns at sundown. This festival will be perfect for families, offering activities, games, food, and competitions, all along the Vltava River.
- Kampa Park – This festival starts at the park at 3:00pm and features a parade from Malá Strana to Kampa at 6:00pm. The festival also features live performances, food and drink, and of course a fire show.