In The Czech Republic, Easter is a long holiday. Besides celebrating Easter classically as we know it on Sunday, many Czech people celebrate the entire week leading up to this cheerful holiday.
Back when the communists first started their occupation of the Czech nation in the late 1940s, the originally religious holiday was banned. As a result, it became more of a welcome of spring and a hope for new beginnings.
With the end of the Velvet Revolution and communism, some of Easter’s Christian roots were brought back. Many of the Czech customs, however, originated in pre-Christian times.
Christianity very skillfully used these pre-Christian customs; there are records showing that the Church tried to ban various customs from those times, calling them Pagan. But most of them survived despite these bans, and the Church was unable to uproot them, so in many cases, it just took them on. Easter is one of the times when pre-Christian customs and ideas blend with the Christian ones.
Saturday or Bílá sobota which translates directly to white Saturday is known as the “The Day of Light”. It symbolizes Jesus’ resurrection from the dead.
The rattling boys will actually go up to homes now, and rattle until they are given money, which they later divide between themselves.
On this day’s early evening, it was a habit to bless a so-called “Judas´fire” at the church entrance. As a matter of fact, it was not a generally known fire. Its name was also “wooden fire” because it was kindled by rubbing wood pieces together.
Such a fire served subsequently to light up a white wax candle (in Czech called “paskal”), which in the liturgy represented Christ after his resurrection. Into this candle, five incense grains were stuck as token of Christ´s five wounds.
Bílá sobota is regarded, along with Zelený čtvrtek, as a lucky day for sowing. The farmers place ashes on their fields to ensure a good crop, and shake the trees so that they’ll yield a lot of fruit.
They say that if it rains on Bílá sobota, it will rain often during the coming year.