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Czech Holidays – Velký Pátek

Friday, April 7, 2023 is a public holiday in the Czech Republic, commemorating the Christian Holiday of Good Friday. Read on to learn about the history and traditions of this day.

History

The significant history of the Christianity in the Czech Republic influences the traditions, culture, and holidays. This includes Good Friday, the day of passion and grief in Roman Catholicism. This religious holiday represents the crucifixion and death of Jesus.Good Friday, or Velký Pátek in Czech, was established as a public holiday recently in 2016.  The day always falls on the Friday before Easter Sunday. Each year it varies in date, but it usually falls around late April to early March.

Good Friday first came to the Czech Republic with the introduction of Christianity in the 9th century. Catholic missionaries brought more than just religion to central Europe, but also culture and tradition. Christian tradition combined with local folk culture to create the customs and celebration for many national holidays. The official holiday of Good Friday was removed during the communist regime, but it was officially reinstated in 2016.

Customs 

Aside from religious importance, Good Friday is a day traditionally used to prepare for the coming Easter celebrations. It is customary to not work on the day. This practice originated out of religious observance, but carried into folk farm culture and is largely why the public holiday is observed in todays time. One is said to receive a year of bad luck for carrying out any labor for this traditional day of rest.

Traditionally, there are many rituals and superstitions performed on Good Friday. The weather of the day is said to predict what comes for the rest of the year. Rain and thunder predict a successful harvest, while a red sunrise signifies trouble. It was believed hidden treasures can be found in mountainous caves on this day. In contemporary times, the holiday is celebrated with fasting and Easter preparations. Many abstain from eating meat and stick to light meals. It is also common to finish painting Easter eggs, which have a long history in the Czech Republic, symbolizing new life and celebration. The day is also used to prepare foods for upcoming Easter, for example holiday bread and lamb cakes.

 Modern Observance

Today, Good Friday is most commonly observed as a day off from work and school. Religious services are held by Christians to honor this day of grief.

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