Experience Prague’s Easter markets

by Ashley Dobson Contributing writer

 Photo by Marten_House/Shutterstock.com
Photo by Marten_House/Shutterstock.com

Though Germany offers plenty of its own Easter markets, it’s always fun to take a trip and experience another country’s traditions.

Luckily, one of the best Easter markets in Europe is located in nearby Prague, Czech Republic.

The Prague Easter markets are open every day in the Old Town Square, Wenceslas Square and Republic Square through April 3.

These Easter markets are currently on the upswing. They originate from a time before the country’s communist era and have deep religious ties. But under communist rule, the religious aspects were banned. As a result, the markets were not as widely celebrated and could not include many Czech traditions.

Since the fall of communism in 1989, the markets have been reborn. Now, Czechs and tourists alike come in the thousands to celebrate the Easter season and beginning of spring.

The Old Town Square market is the largest of all the markets. Visitors can catch performances in the afternoons by local children’s choirs, dance groups and folk singers, in addition to the shopping and dining options.

Wenceslas Square, located about five minutes away from Old Town, is slightly smaller. It has about 60 shopping stalls and a group of food stands.

The Republic Square market is a farmer’s market that turns into an Easter market for this season. It is a great place to find fresh food.

The most prominent sight at the markets are the intricately decorated Easter eggs.

The Czechs consider the greatest symbol of Easter to be the egg. It embodies spring and new life. The eggs are hand-painted, brightly colored, and can even be decorated with beeswax, straw and feathers. At some stands, Czech ladies dressed in traditional costume will personalize the eggs for you by painting on your name or a special message.

Another popular symbol of Czech Easter found throughout the markets are Easter “pomlazkas,” braided pussywillow twigs, that are thought to bring health and youth to anyone who is whipped with them. On Easter, which is celebrated on a Monday in the Czech Republic, boys go caroling throughout town and symbolically whip girls on the legs, according to custom.

At rows of wooden huts, you can find a wide range of other handcrafted goods such as glassware, jewelry, candles, embroidered cloths, dolls and wooden toys.

Shopping is certainly a highlight of the Prague Easter markets, but the trip wouldn’t be complete without trying some of the traditional foods. Large hams roast on spits, barbequed sausages are plentiful, and roast lamb with a special parsley bread stuffing certainly deserves the spotlight of the savory treats.

And don’t fear if you have a sweet tooth, the Prague Easter markets have you covered as well. Try “Trdelnik,” a sugar coated pastry that is served hot, or “beranek,” cakes baked into the shape of a lamb coated in chocolate icing. There is also “mazanec,” a thick bread that’s covered with an egg glaze and almonds.

To make a full vacation out of your trip to Prague’s Easter market, be sure to check out some of Prague’s gorgeous sites. The main part of the city is quite compact and easy to get around by foot.

Old Town, where one of the markets is located, is beautiful to explore. The Charles Bridge and Prague Castle, the largest ancient castle in the world, are also must-dos.

For more information about Prague, what to see, and to learn more about the Easter markets, visit www.czechtourism.com.