Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Pálení čarodějnic - Witches' Night

The fire begins
Pálení čarodějnic, Witches' Night, is by far my favorite celebration I've come across in the Czech Republic.  It stems from a Pagan ritual of burning a witch high on hill on the evening of April 30 (which is halfway between the Spring Equinox and Summer Solstice).  Burning this witch was supposed to expel Winter and welcome Spring.  Now, this is my kind of event.  As most of you probably know, I'm not a fan of cold weather, so anything that is supposed to make this cold weather stop, is fine by me!  That being said, we've had nearly summer weather (low 80s) the last few days.  Doesn't matter to me - I'll take anything as long as its not cold or snowing!
The bonfire is ready with the witch on top.  It was guarded by the police so no one got too close.

Children made smaller witches to add to the pile and were allowed to place them in the bonfire.

I love this girl's Cyclone color with costume.

Even Spiderman was there

Grilling sausages over a small fire pit

According to the official Pálení čarodějnic website for Prague, over 16,000 people were on hand last night to celebrate.  Thousands of kids and adults were dressed as witches to help celebrate.  There were food and beverage stands as well as bands playing.  There were even two extra fire pits for people to roast sausages for their dinner.  One thing I love about Czech festivals is that you can generally bring your own food and drink to the event.  Of course you can buy things there too, but they aren't ridiculously expensive either.
Its time to start the fire!

I can honestly say I've never seen anything like this.  It was incredible to be this close to it!

The firemen sprayed the grass near the fire to make sure it didn't spread.  They managed this massive fire very well.

My favorite picture - it was HOT!

Shortly after the fire was set, people started playing their guitars and singing.

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