Sunday, May 1, 2011

Pálení Čarodějnic: Witch Burning Day

I don't know exactly why, but I've pretty much been looking forward to Pálení Čarodějnic since I got to Prague. I have this handy guide book that tells me all the major holidays and festivals in Prague and the nearby areas and the moment I read about a day celebrated with bonfires and beer, I was in without question. 

This lady is going to burn later.

So Saturday my roommate, a couple of friends and I went up to Ladronka a park way out at the top of Prague toward the airport. You get on the 22 Tram and ride for around 30 minutes, passed Prague Castle, passed my favorite brewery, passed pretty much everything else. 

When you get off you find a big open field with an asphalt track around it. It's long and the Czechs love it because it's one of the best places in the city to go inline skating. The Czechs love their inline skating, but 
more on that later.


Pálení Čarodějnic is witch burning day. It's a pagan tradition in which witches are burned in effigy in order to ward off their evil spirits as they fly into the city on their broomsticks bringing winter weather. Basically, the Czechs get fed up with the crappy weather and decide to build bonfires on the tops of the hills. The idea is that the witches flying in will see their kin burning on the hills and fly away rather than sticking around to find out what would happen to them. 

Clever Czechs. 

We head over to the festival and find a whole of bunch yummy food and beer. We also found a ton of adorable 
little girls dressed up as witches. Here are some of the highlights of the day. 

Three French nuns plus one little witch on the tram equal hilarious.

Aw, stilts. Wouldn't be an outdoor festival without them.

Mmm, Halušky.
I realize this is more of a Slovak dish.
That aside, I totally plan to learn to make it.
-photo via Zuzka

This is how you teach kids to make a stable bonfire. Lincoln logs!

The whole time I wish I had a kid I could dress up.
-photo via Zuzka

The witches inline skating competition.

Witch lady cheering on the inline skating competition.

There was even a little bit of a sing-a-long around the bonfire. I would have sung along, but I didn't know any of the words as they were singing in Czech. Made me miss home a little though.

Bye bye, witch. Bye bye, winter. 


  1. I love these kinds of festivals and traditions (anything that ends in a bonfire, really), and this one looks like it was a particularly good time.

  2. Ummm, so creepy, but wouldn't expect anything else there!! :) Great photos and glad you had a good time!


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