In Czech Republic there are just 14 % people who profess some religion. This is why Maundy Thursday and Good Friday are normal working days; the only day off is Easter Monday. For the most people Easter is just a nice long weekend, of course anticipated by supermarkets filled to the brim with chocolate eggs and Easter bunnies.
However, some people follow folk traditions that are mostly connected to traditional food. On Maundy Thursday (in Czech Green Thursday) we usually cook something green, i.e. spinach. The restaurants serve “green” beer. On Good Friday special fasting cookies “judas” with salt and caraway seeds are baked. On Holy Saturday we bake cross buns and cakes in the shape of lamb. On Easter Sunday families meet for a festive meal. The Easter Monday is dedicated to folklore. Girls and mums dye eggs and iron ribbons, boys and daddies prepare osier sticks. The whole morning the boys visit their female friends and are supposed to say a special Easter poem and touch the girl with the osier stick. The girls are supposed to reward them with dyed eggs and ribbons.
However, a lot of girls try to ignore this tradition and pretend not to be at home. The reason is easy – this tradition often runs wild. Instead of symbolical touching I already saw a real scuffle with cooking spoon and instead of eggs and ribbons spirits.
If you would like to taste Czech Easter, try to bake “mazanec” (cross bun):
1. Prepare a sourdough from a package of leaven, a spoon of sugar and 250 ml lukewarm milk and leave it to rise.
2. Put 50 g raisins into a bowl and pour rum over them. In an another bowl mix 500 g flour, 100 g sugar, 1 package of vanilla sugar and a pinch of salt.
3. Pour the sourdough over this mix, add 3 egg yolks, raisins, 50 g chopped almonds, 50g chopped nuts and 150g melted butter.
4. Knead the dough, sprinkle with flour, cover it and leave it to rise in a warm place. Then create two loaves, put them on the baking sheet with baking paper and let it rise again.
5. Preheat the oven to 200 °C, make a cut in the shape of cross on them, rub them with egg and bake them. Reduce the temperature to 150–160 °C after 10 minutes. At the end of baking cover the loaves with aluminium foil – the loaves will not get burnt.
6. If want to be sure that the loaves are well done, prick them with a wooden skewer. If the dough doesn’t stick on it, the cross bun is finished. Take it out of the oven and grease it immediately with fat.
7. You can serve it sprinkled with sugar and cut into slices.