According to the survey, Easter traditions are more respected by women and older people: What does Easter mean to Czechs?

For most people in the Czech Republic, Easter is associated with observance of traditions. Women and older people have a stronger relationship with Easter traditions, while men and young people under 29 are more lukewarm. For three out of four people, celebrating Easter includes baking an Easter lamb or spread, coloring eggs and knitting pomlázka. 7 out of 10 Czechs also see this holiday as an opportunity to visit relatives, and more than half collect willow cats at Easter. Although people don’t perceive Easter primarily as a Christian holiday, they often realize the Christian origins of a number of traditions. This is the result of a representative survey conducted for the Catholic Church by the IBRS agency.

Posted: April 13, 2022 9:00 AM

“Easter is the most important Christian holiday. They remind us of the biblical story of the sacrifice, the crucifixion and especially the resurrection of Jesus Christ. We were interested in how the Czech public perceives Easter and the symbols and traditions that people usually associate with them. Naturally, we also wanted to know to what extent they could determine the Christian origin of a number of living traditions.” says Stanislav Přibyl, general secretary of the Czech Bishops’ Conference, adding that the research results came as a pleasant surprise to him.

People are familiar with the symbolism of Easter Sunday, they grope the meaning of White Saturday

Most people (61%) correctly answered that Easter Sunday is a celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, and almost the same number (57%) correctly answered that Lent is a 40-day period of preparation at Easter. Half of those polled correctly determined that it began with Ash Wednesday, and a similar number of people knew that the Easter egg symbolized new life and the victory of life over death.

The Czechs, on the other hand, are less aware of what the Easter lamb symbolizes. 44% of people know that it is the sacrifice of Jesus Christ for the salvation of the world. People are least aware of the symbols and traditions directly associated with visiting the church. For example, the name White Saturday, which refers to the white dress of the baptized at Easter, was correctly defined by a third of the people, as was the meaning of the Paschal (Paschal) candle. Only a quarter of the people knew what the fires burning in front of the churches during White Saturday (the light that conquered the darkness and the imminent resurrection of Christ) meant.

A fifth of people plan to visit the church

22% of people plan to visit the church itself at Easter, which is four times more than the regular attendance for Sunday services. Yet that’s half the number of people who attend church at Christmas. From a Christian point of view, Easter is a bigger and more important holiday than Christmas. “The fact that for a fifth of people Easter is linked, among other things, to a visit to the church and that there are among them people who call themselves unbelievers, we naturally rejoice. Visiting the Easter Vigil, a mass celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ, is one of the most powerful experiences you can have in a church.” emphasizes Stanislav Přibyl. The white Saturday vigil will take place this year in churches on April 16 after sunset.

6 out of 10 women collect cats, a third perceive Easter as a spring break

Easter is usually celebrated by more women and also by older generations. While some traditions are followed by both men and women, others are observed by women far more often than by men. For example, collecting cats is part of Easter for 62% of women, but only 51% of men. This tradition also finds its origins in the story of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. The branches are reminiscent of the palm fronds that people waved during his solemn entry into Jerusalem. A third of women also perceive Easter as a spring holiday, while among men only a fifth of respondents perceive it as such.

Older people are more likely to follow Easter traditions

As with other traditions, the older generation is more likely to follow them at Easter. “We see differences in all traditions, they are more pronounced, for example, in the cats mentioned or in the use of rattles, as well as in the viewing of television programs with religious themes”, explains the doctor. Kateřina Pulkrábková from the Department of Ecclesiastical Data of the Czech Bishops’ Conference. While cats can be found in the households of two-thirds of people over 60, among people under 29 it’s only 37%. Ratchets and tap dancing are part of the Easter holiday according to 44% of those over 70, but only a fifth of those under 29. The rattles in the church on Maundy Thursday and Good Friday represent the bells. “He doesn’t ring and play the organ these days. Bells are sometimes said to fly in Rome as a symbol of pain after Christ’s crucifixion,” says Stanislav Přibyl.

Authors: PhDr. Kateřina Pulkrábková and Msgr. Daniel Chytil, Church Data Analysis Department, ČBK

Comment:

The Sunday in May, which this year falls on April 10, ends Lent and Holy Week begins. It culminates in the so-called Easter class (Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and White Saturday) and ends on the night of Saturday to Sunday, when the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ begins and the Easter season begins.

Traditions questioned and their origin:

Easter eggs: a symbol of new life, the risen Christ

Easter lamb: In the Old Testament, the lamb is a sacrificial animal. According to the New Testament, Jesus Christ sacrificed himself for the salvation of the world. Christians commemorate this sacrifice, among other things, with the paschal lamb.

Cats: Twigs (most commonly willow) are a symbol of May Sunday, which is the last Sunday before Easter. During it, Christians commemorate the solemn arrival of Christ in Jerusalem, during which people made him a carpet of palm branches.

Departure of the bells in Rome: On Maundy Thursday, at the Mass of the Last Supper, the church bells and the organ make the loudest sound, then they suddenly fall silent and do not play or ring in the churches until White Saturday. It reminds people that something bad is happening, the time is coming when Christ was betrayed and crucified.

Pawls: They are used on Maundy Thursday and Good Friday instead of silent bells.

Paskal: A candle that lights on White Saturday. The candles burn in churches throughout Easter and weigh over ten kilograms. The lighting of the candle symbolizes the new life and the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Fires in front of churches: White Saturday evening after sunset comes hope, the feast of the resurrection of Jesus Christ is approaching. People gather in front of a church to light a fire. The mass follows, first in the extinguished church. Believers light candles and sing to each other. It symbolizes Jesus’ victory over death and the spread of hope.

Author of the article:

Daniel Chytil

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