May 8, 2012
I’m home now, but I couldn’t leave Europe without visiting my son and his wife, in the Czech Republic. They live in Prague, the beautiful and ancient capital city.
It’s all go in Prague at this time of year.
1.The evening of the 30th April is a time for burning witches. The children dress up as witches, and there are piles of logs on the Campa ready for the festivities.
2. May 1st is International Workers Day. Members of the Czech Communist Party marched through the city.
3. It’s the first official day of summer. In villages around Prague, the women decorate a tree with ribbons, and the tree is hoisted high. The men of the village are required to guard the decorated tree all night. This gives them a reason to light a fire, sit around and drink with the other men, and stay out all night. The next day is spent recovering.
4. It’s official kiss a girl under a flowering tree day. Since the Czech landscape is dotted with trees in blossom, you can be pretty disappointed if you don’t score a kiss.
5. On the first day of the month, Prague city tests its siren. For five minutes. Loudly. Nobody seems to know what exactly it is warning against. But Prague residents are prepared, and they know what to do if one day it sounds a real alarm. Seriously.
I just missed the day when you pretend to shoot someone who is dressed up as a bear, and dance with whoever asks you. I don’t know what it is called.
In late Spring and early Summer, Prague parks and the Czech countryside are a carpet of flowers. Trees are in blossom – apple and cherry, mainly – and the air is heavy with their perfume. In some places, the dandelion heads produce a gentle snow of seed fibres, which blows around your ankles and drifts across the road in front of your car. Later in Summer, Czechs can travel into the country and pick cherries or apples from the trees growing by the roadside. There are wild strawberries, and blueberries for the gathering. Coming from a land which has no real seasons, I found it enchanting.