Easter was during communist times always presented as a holiday dedicated to welcoming of spring. Official media were not talking much about its religious meaning. It has changed after the collapse of communism in 1989. People are now aware of the Christian aspect of Easter and start to bring back to life some folk traditions.
A real symbol of Czech Easter is obviously an egg as a symbol of new life. According the tradition eggs are decorated by women and girls and given then as a small gift to men and boys visiting their homes on Easter Monday. Eggs are poached or sometimes hard boiled. Various techniques and patterns are used for their decorating. Very common practice is sticking of straw pieces on coloured eggs or creating ornaments with bee wax on white eggs which are coloured afterwards. Each Czech and Moravian region has its own traditional way of decorating and so you can easily recognize from which part of the country eggs come from. Popular colour is red, often you can see a combination of red, black and yellow.
Another typical item of our holiday is so called pomlázka - a braided whip made from pussywillow twigs. Young pussywillow twigs are beleived to bring health and youth. A word pomlázka comes from the verb pomladit which means to make younger. Its origins date back to pagan times. Pomlazka can be bought at markets but some men braid it on their own. It is a custom that boys and men go for caroling on Easter Monday. They visit homes and symbolically whip girls and women with their pomlazka Girls are supposed to offer them some refreshment (usually shots of spirits) and reward them with coloured eggs.
As to the Easter cuisine like in other countries traditional dish is roasted lamb. However lamb is not very popular meat in Czech republic and not everybody likes it. That´s why it is often replaced by chicken or turkey. Typical dish prepared for Easter is nádivka or hlavička - it is kind of souffle made of white bread, eggs and herbs (parsley, nettles). Housewives bake a special sweet bread made of yeast dough (mazanec) and an Easter Lamb (beránek) - a cake made in a special mould. Easter lamb is them adorned with a ribbon and decorates home until Easter Monday when it is finally allowed to eat it.
Veselé velikonoce - Happy Easter !