Czech Republic as a nation sure loves to preserve its heritage, a lot of which is reflected in its colourful traditional festivals. Masopust is the traditional Czech Shrovetide or carnival, which is held in cities such as Prague, Cesky Krumlov, and almost all over the country. Tourists are in for a great treat, all thanks to the sights and sounds of the carnival, and also as an added bonus, the famous Bohemian Carnevale coincides with Masopust. Hence, one must not miss the chance of witnessing two great national holidays at once.
Masopust can be roughly translated as ‘meat fast’ or ‘farewell to meat’. There are many different themes of the festival, some of which are related to Pagan festivities and the other to Christian ones. The recurring themes, like preparing for Lent, bidding farewell to the winter, and celebrating the fertility of spring are common in Masopust festivities. During this time of the year, people of all ages dress up elaborately in traditional attires, including decorative masks. Processions with masked characters are a walking array of colours; they celebrate the festival by going from house to house. The festival comes alive with the singing, dancing, eating, and drinking of the people to their heart’s content.
Zizkovsky Masopust is held in Prague's Zizkov District, which is a popular attraction for both locals and tourists. Zizkovsky Masopust begins a week before Ash Wednesday and continues with parades, parties, and other events. Followed by Ash Wednesday is Hog Thursday, a culinary treat for locals involving various traditional dishes of pork. There are many Prague guided tours available during these colourful festivals in Prague.
However, the true rustic feel of the Shrovetide parades can be experienced in the villages of the Hlinecko Region of eastern Bohemia. It has been termed as a UNESCO Intangible Heritage. The masked procession of Hlinecko follows a distinct set of rules and is done with a fixed number of masks. Always led by a mare and followed by a knacker at the very end, this procession goes from house to house singing traditional songs. This is undoubtedly a unique representation of the rustic Czech traditions.