Sign up for blog updates

Prague: ARTĚL Style

Expert recommendations and insider tips for first-time visitors and locals alike from ARTĚL’s founder, Karen Feldman, who has lived in Prague since 1994. Click on the links below for detailed reviews – from Feldman’s own unique perspective – of all the best that Prague has to offer...

CATEGORIES

POPULAR POSTS

THE BOOK

 

Buy the book at amazon.com

Know a good place for us to check out? Tell us!

 

 

Expats Blog

Entertainment

The Many Hats of Masopust

Published on February 16th, 2015 in Entertainment

  • Masopust procession, vintage photo (courtesy of www.masopusthamry.cz)

  • Masopust procession in Prague (photo courtesy of www.michalkrajicek.cz)

  • Masopust procession in Hlinecko (photo courtesy of www.hlinsko.cz)

  • Masopust procession in Hlinecko (photo courtesy of www.hlinsko.cz)

  • Zabíjačka time!

  • Zabijacka (Illustration by Josef Lada)

  • Masopust visits a babička, vintage photo (courtesy of www.masopusthamry.cz)

  • Masopust procession, vintage photo (courtesy of www.masopusthamry.cz)

 

From now until early March, Masopust season is in full swing in Prague and throughout the Czech Republic. For the uninitiated, this is the Czech Mardi Gras, a time of feasting and revelry that traditionally led up to Ash Wednesday and Lenten fasting.

 

These days it's a great excuse to eat, drink, and admire some truly crazy hats. Let me explain:

 

At the heart of any true Czech masopust celebration is the "zabíjačka", a hog-killing feast. It's a day-long event where a pig is slaughtered and delicacies like black soup, blood sausage, and pork cracklings are made and consumed on the spot with great quantities of plum brandy (slivovice).

 

The town butcher typically presides over these outdoor festivities sporting, along with a lovely blood-spattered apron, a special knit wool skull cap called a zmijovka, or viper, for the zig-zag pattern that snakes around its brim. Read more, including where to buy your very own, on our blog post on the subject!

 

Another equally important aspect of Czech masopust are the masked parades and carnivals taking place in districts across Prague as well as farther afoot.

 

 

 © NÚLK Strážnice

 

In the East Bohemian village of Hlinecko, the parade has remain unchanged for centuries and has even made the UNESCO list of heritage events. The highlights of this door-to-door Shrovetide procession include ritual dances, black masks, the consumption of deep-fried donuts, and some incredibly bizarre headdress, particularly towering wide-brimmed hats that are festooned with vibrantly colored flowers, ribbons, and pom poms—almost like a clown hat.

 

If you plan on attending one of these parades keep the festive dress code in mind. Funny hats and masks can be purchased at most Czech stationery stores. (I recently spotted a plague doctor mask at my local papírnictví—in the kid's section no less!)

 

Prague's most long-running masopust parade is in Žižkov (this year on February 17 at 4 pm). Starting in Jiřího z Poděbrad Square, It is a lively, family-friendly Fat Tuesday celebration with puppets, costumes, masks, music, and plenty of revelry.

 

Visiting Prague and want to sample zabíjačka fare minus the ritual killing? The annual masopust market at Tylovo náměstí, running through February 17, has grilled pork specialities and beer. Costumes are optional, stretchy pants are not!

 

 

 

close