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Czech Čechy, historic region (20,368 sq mi/52,753 sq km) and former kingdom, in W and central Czech RepublicCzech Republic,
Czech Česká Republika (2005 est. pop. 10,241,000), republic, 29,677 sq mi (78,864 sq km), central Europe. It is bordered by Slovakia on the east, Austria on the south, Germany on the west, and Poland on the north.
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. Bohemia is bounded by Austria in the southeast, by Germany in the west and northwest, by Poland in the north and northeast, and by Moravia in the east. Its natural boundaries are the Bohemian ForestBohemian Forest,
Czech Český Les, Ger. Böhmerwald, mountain range, extending c.150 mi (240 km) along the S Czech-German border and extending into Austria. The Czech name for its southern section is Sumava.
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, the ErzgebirgeErzgebirge
[Ger.,=ore mountains], Czech Krušné Hory, mountain range, along the Czech–German border, extending c.95 mi (150 km) from the Fichtelgebirge in the southwest to the Elbe River in the northeast.
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 ("ore mountains") chain, the SudetesSudetes
, Czech Sudety, Ger. Sudeten, mountain range, along the border of the Czech Republic and Poland, extending c.185 mi (300 km) between the Elbe and Oder rivers. It is continued on the W by the Erzgebirge and on the E by the Carpathians.
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, and the Bohemian-Moravian heights.

Land and People

With MoraviaMoravia
, Czech Morava, Ger. Mähren, region in the E Czech Republic. The region is bordered on the W by Bohemia, on the E by the Little and White Carpathian Mts., which divide it from Slovakia, and on the N by the Sudetes Mts.
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 and Czech Silesia, Bohemia constitutes the traditional Czech Lands, although historically there was a sizable German minority, and in its broader meaning Bohemia is often understood to include this entire area, which until 1918 was a Hapsburg crown land. Prague is the traditional Bohemian capital. Although Bohemia is highly urbanized and densely populated, agriculture and rural life and customs retain their importance. Central Bohemia consists of fertile lowlands and plateaus, drained by the Elbe and Vltava (Moldau) rivers. Grain, sugar beets, grapes and other fruit, flax, and the famous hops used in the breweries of PlzeňPlzeň
, Ger. Pilsen, city (1991 pop. 173,008), W Czech Republic, in Bohemia, at the confluence of several rivers. One of the Czech Republic's largest cities, it lies near a belt of coalfields in an area where sugar beets and hops are raised.
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 (Pilsen) are the principal crops. Prague is the center of a heavy industrial region, and Plzeň is also known for the huge Skoda works, producing machinery and munitions. Bohemia is celebrated for its spas and beautiful resorts, notably Karlovy VaryKarlovy Vary
, Ger. Karlsbad, city (1991 pop. 56,222), NW Czech Republic, in Bohemia, at the confluence of the Teplá and Ohře rivers. A famous health resort, Karlovy Vary is one of the best-known spas of Europe; its hot mineral water is taken particularly for
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 (Ger. Karlsbad) and Mariánské Láznĕ(Ger. Marienbad). The overwhelming majority of the population is Czech, but there are some Slovak, German, and other minorities.


Early History

The Romans called the area Boiohaemia after the Boii tribe, probably Celtic, which was displaced (1st–5th cent. A.D.) by Slavic settlers, the Czechs. Subjugated by the Avars, the Czechs freed themselves under the leadership of Samo (d. c.658). The legendary Queen Libussa and her husband, the peasant PřemyslPřemysl
, earliest dynasty of Bohemia. Its semilegendary founder was the peasant Přemysl, whom the Bohemian Princess (sometimes called Queen) Libussa chose as her husband at some time in the 8th cent.
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, founded the first Bohemian dynasty in the 9th cent. Christianity was introduced by saints Cyril and MethodiusCyril and Methodius, Saints
, d. 869 and 884, respectively, Greek missionaries, brothers, called Apostles to the Slavs and fathers of Slavonic literature. Their history and influence are obscured by conflicting legends.
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 while Bohemia was part of the great Moravian empire, from which it withdrew at the end of the century to become an independent principality. St. WenceslausWenceslaus, Saint
, d. 929, duke of Bohemia. He was reared in the Christian faith by his grandmother, St. Ludmilla. He became duke at an early age, and during his minority his mother, Drahomira, acted as regent.
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, the first great Bohemian ruler (920–29), successfully defended his land from Germanic invasion; but his brother, Boleslav I (929–67), was forced to acknowledge (950) the rule of Otto I, and Bohemia became a part of the Holy Roman Empire. The Bohemian principality retained autonomy in internal affairs, however. Later Přemyslide rulers acquired Moravia and most of SilesiaSilesia
, Czech Slezsko, Ger. Schlesien, Pol. Śląsk, region of E central Europe, extending along both banks of the Oder River and bounded in the south by the mountain ranges of the Sudetes—particularly the Krkonoše (Ger.
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German influence in Bohemia increased with the growth of the towns and the rise of trade between East and West. Silver, mined chiefly at Kutná HoraKutná Hora
, Ger. Kuttenberg, city (1991 pop. 24,561), central Czech Republic, in Bohemia. Now an agricultural center, it was an important silver-mining center in the Middle Ages.
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, greatly added to the wealth and prestige of the dukes who, by the 12th cent., began to take part in the imperial elections. In 1198, Ottocar IOttocar I
or Přemysl Ottocar I
, d. 1230, duke (1197–98) and king (1198–1230) of Bohemia. The struggle within the Holy Roman Empire for the imperial crown enabled Ottocar to obtain (1198) from Philip of Swabia the royal title.
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 was crowned king of Bohemia, which became an independent kingdom within the empire. The conquests and acquisitions of Ottocar IIOttocar II
or Přemysl Ottocar II,
c.1230–1278, king of Bohemia (1253–78), son and successor of Wenceslaus I. Ottocar shrewdly exploited the disorders of the great interregnum in the Holy Roman Empire to build an empire reaching from Bohemia to the
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 (1253–78) brought Bohemia to the height of its power and its greatest extent (from the Oder to the Adriatic), but his defeat by Rudolf IRudolf I
or Rudolf of Hapsburg
, 1218–91, German king (1273–91), first king of the Hapsburg dynasty. Rudolf's election as king ended the interregnum (1250–73), during which time there was no accepted German king or Holy Roman emperor.
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 of Hapsburg cost Bohemia all his conquests.

Golden Age and Hussite Wars

After the Přemyslide line became extinct (1306), John of LuxemburgJohn of Luxemburg,
1296–1346, king of Bohemia (1310–46). The son of Holy Roman Emperor Henry VII, he married Elizabeth, sister of Wenceslaus III of Bohemia, and in 1310 he was chosen king of Bohemia, which had been in virtual anarchy since Wenceslaus's death (1306).
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 was elected king in 1310. The reign of his son, Charles IVCharles IV,
1316–78, Holy Roman emperor (1355–78), German king (1347–78), and king of Bohemia (1346–78). The son of John of Luxemburg, Charles was educated at the French court and fought the English at Crécy, where his father's heroic death made
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 (1346–78), who was crowned Holy Roman Emperor in 1355, was the golden age of Bohemia, and Prague became the seat of the empire. His Golden Bull (1356) permanently established the kings of Bohemia as electorselectors,
in the history of the Holy Roman Empire, the princes who had the right to elect the German kings or, more exactly, the kings of the Romans (Holy Roman emperors).
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. In the reigns of his successors, emperors WenceslausWenceslaus,
1361–1419, Holy Roman emperor (uncrowned) and German king (1378–1400), king of Bohemia (1378–1419) as Wenceslaus IV, elector of Brandenburg (1373–76), son and successor of Emperor Charles IV.
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 and SigismundSigismund
, 1368–1437, Holy Roman emperor (1433–37), German king (1410–37), king of Hungary (1387–1437) and of Bohemia (1419–37), elector of Brandenburg (1376–1415), son of Holy Roman Emperor Charles IV.
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, religious, political, and social tensions exploded in the movement, both religious and nationalist, of the HussitesHussites
, followers of John Huss. After the burning of Huss (1415) and Jerome of Prague (1416), the Hussites continued as a powerful group in Bohemia and Moravia. They drew up (1420) the Four Articles of Prague, demanding freedom of preaching, communion in both kinds (i.e.
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 against the Holy Roman Empire. The Hussite WarsHussite Wars,
series of conflicts in the 15th cent., caused by the rise of the Hussites in Bohemia and Moravia. It was a religious struggle between Hussites and the Roman Catholic Church, a national struggle between Czechs and Germans, and a social struggle between the landed
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 led to the defeat (1434) of the radical Taborites at the hands of the moderate Utraquists, who were supported by the great nobles. In 1436, by the so-called Compactata, the Utraquists returned to communion with the Roman Catholic Church and established Utraquism as the national religion. Meanwhile the crown had passed to Albert IIAlbert II,
1397–1439, Holy Roman Emperor, king of Hungary and Bohemia (1438–39), duke of Austria (1404–38). He was the son-in-law of Holy Roman Emperor Sigismund, whom he aided against the Hussites of Bohemia.
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, a Hapsburg, and then to Ladislaus VLadislaus V
or Ladislaus Posthumus,
1440–57, king of Hungary (1444–57) and, as Ladislaus I, king of Bohemia (1453–57). Ladislaus, duke of Austria by birth as the posthumous son of Albert of Hapsburg, duke of Austria and German king (see Albert II),
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 of Hungary (in Bohemia, Ladislaus I). George of PodebradGeorge of Podebrad
, 1420–71, king of Bohemia (1458–71). A Bohemian nobleman, he became leader of the Utraquists, or the moderate Hussites, in the wars between Hussites and Catholics.
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 actually ruled for Ladislaus and was elected to succeed him as king in 1458. On his death (1471) the crown reverted to the kings of Hungary—Uladislaus IIUladislaus II
, Hung. Ulászló II, c.1456–1516, king of Hungary (1490–1516) and, as Ladislaus II, king of Bohemia (1471–1516); son of Casimir IV of Poland.
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 (Ladislaus II), Matthias CorvinusMatthias Corvinus
, 1443?–1490, king of Hungary (1458–90) and Bohemia (1478–90), second son of John Hunyadi. He was elected king of Hungary on the death of Ladislaus V. Holy Roman Emperor Frederick III sought to contest the election but recognized him in 1462.
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, and Louis IILouis II,
1506–26, king of Hungary and Bohemia (1516–26), son and successor of Uladislaus II. He was the last of the Jagiello dynasty in the two kingdoms. In the face of intensified attacks by Sultan Sulayman I, Louis hastily sought (1526) to unite Hungary and
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. The nobles profited from the disorders of the period and in 1487 secured vast privileges, reducing the peasantry to virtual serfdom.

Hapsburg Rule

The accession (1526) of Archduke Ferdinand (later Emperor Ferdinand IFerdinand I,
1503–64, Holy Roman emperor (1558–64), king of Bohemia (1526–64) and of Hungary (1526–64), younger brother of Holy Roman Emperor Charles V.
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) began the long Hapsburg domination of Bohemia. Ferdinand began the gradual process by which Bohemia was deprived of self-rule. He also introduced the Jesuits in order to secure the return of Bohemia to Roman Catholicism. The religious situation remained explosive. The conservative wing of the Utraquists had become almost indistinguishable from the Roman Church, and there had arisen a frankly Protestant movement, the Bohemian Brethren (see Moravian ChurchMoravian Church,
 Renewed Church of the Brethren,
or Unitas Fratrum
, an evangelical Christian communion whose adherents are sometimes called United Brethren or Herrnhuters.
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). The Brethren and their close allies, the Lutherans, won equality with the Utraquists by inducing Emperor Maximilian II to declare (1567) that the Compactata no longer were the law of the land. Rudolf IIRudolf II,
1552–1612, Holy Roman emperor (1576–1612), king of Bohemia (1575–1611) and of Hungary (1572–1608), son and successor of Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian II.
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 was forced to grant freedom of religion by the so-called Letter of Majesty (Majestätsbrief) of 1609. When in 1618 Emperor Matthias disregarded the Majestätsbrief, members of the Bohemian diet revolted and dramatized their position by throwing two imperial councilors out of the windows of Hradcin Castle on May 23, 1618.

The so-called Defenestration of Prague precipitated the Thirty Years WarThirty Years War,
1618–48, general European war fought mainly in Germany. General Character of the War

There were many territorial, dynastic, and religious issues that figured in the outbreak and conduct of the war.
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, which came to involve most of Europe. Matthias's son (later Emperor Ferdinand IIFerdinand II,
1578–1637, Holy Roman emperor (1619–37), king of Bohemia (1617–37) and of Hungary (1618–37); successor of Holy Roman Emperor Matthias.
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) was declared deposed, and Frederick the Winter KingFrederick the Winter King,
1596–1632, king of Bohemia (1619–20), elector palatine (1610–20) as Frederick V. The Protestant diet of Bohemia deposed the Roman Catholic King Ferdinand (Holy Roman Emperor Ferdinand II) and chose Frederick as king.
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 was elected king of Bohemia. Frederick and the Protestants were crushed in the battle of the White MountainWhite Mountain
or White Hill,
Czech Bílá Hora, hill near Prague, Czech Republic. There, in Nov., 1620, the Czech Protestants under Christian of Anhalt were routed by the combined armies of the empire and of the Catholic League, under Tilly.
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 (1620) by Ferdinand II. The Protestants were suppressed, and in 1627 Bohemia was demoted from a constituent Hapsburg kingdom to an imperial crown land; its diet was reduced to a consultative body.

The Thirty Years War laid Bohemia waste; after the Peace of Westphalia (1648), forcible Germanization, oppressive taxation, and absentee landownership reduced the Czechs, except a few favored magnates, to misery. The suppression (1749) of the separate chancellery at Prague by Maria TheresaMaria Theresa
, 1717–80, Austrian archduchess, queen of Bohemia and Hungary (1740–80), consort of Holy Roman Emperor Francis I and dowager empress after the accession (1765) of her son, Joseph II.
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 and the introduction of German as the sole official language completed the process. Joseph IIJoseph II,
1741–90, Holy Roman emperor (1765–90), king of Bohemia and Hungary (1780–90), son of Maria Theresa and Holy Roman Emperor Francis I, whom he succeeded. He was the first emperor of the house of Hapsburg-Lorraine (see Hapsburg).
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 freed the serfs and permitted freedom of worship, but he incurred the hatred of the Czechs by his rigorous policy of Germanization. Leopold IILeopold II,
1747–92, Holy Roman emperor (1790–92), king of Bohemia and Hungary (1790–92), as Leopold I grand duke of Tuscany (1765–90), third son of Maria Theresa.
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 tried to conciliate the Czechs; he was the last ruler to be crowned king of Bohemia (1791). During the later 18th cent. the foundations of industrialization were laid in Bohemia, but the German population fared better than the mostly peasant Czechs.

Czech Nationalism and Nationhood

The 19th cent. brought a rebirth of Czech nationalism. Under the leadership of PalackýPalacký, František
, 1798–1876, Czech nationalist and historian, b. Moravia. Regarded as the father of the modern Czech nation, Palacký played a leading role in the Czech cultural and national revival in the 1820s, 30s, and 40s.
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 a Slavic congress assembled at Prague in the Revolution of 1848, but by 1849, although the Czech peasantry had been emancipated, absolute Austrian domination had been forcibly restored. The establishment (1867) of the Austro-Hungarian MonarchyAustro-Hungarian Monarchy
or Dual Monarchy,
the Hapsburg empire from 1867 until its fall in 1918. The Nature of Austria-Hungary

The reorganization of Austria and Hungary was made possible by the Ausgleich
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 thoroughly disappointed the Czech aspirations for wide political autonomy within a federalized Austria. Instead, the Czech lands were relegated to a mere province of the empire. Concessions were made (1879) by the Austrian minister TaaffeTaaffe, Eduard, Graf von
, 1833–95, Austrian premier (1868–70, 1879–93), of Irish descent. A childhood friend of Emperor Francis Joseph, he was twice premier.
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; Czechs entered the imperial bureaucracy and parliament at Vienna. However, many Czechs continued to advocate complete separation from the Hapsburg empire.

Full independence was reached only at the end of World War I under the guidance of T. G. MasarykMasaryk, Jan
, 1886–1948, Czechoslovak diplomat, son of Thomas G. Masaryk. He was (1925–38) Czechoslovak minister to Great Britain, and in London he became (1940) foreign minister in the Czechoslovak government in exile headed by Eduard Beneš after the German
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. In 1918, Bohemia became the core of the new state of CzechoslovakiaCzechoslovakia
, Czech Československo , former federal republic, 49,370 sq mi (127,869 sq km), in central Europe. On Jan. 1, 1993, the Czech Republic and the Slovak Republic (see Slovakia) became independent states and Czechoslovakia ceased to exist.
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. After the Munich Pact of 1938, Czechoslovakia was stripped of the so-called Sudeten area, which was annexed to Germany. In 1939, Bohemia was invaded by German troops and proclaimed part of the German protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia.

After World War II the pre-1938 boundaries were restored, and most of the German-speaking population was expelled. In 1948, Bohemia's status as a province was abolished, and it was divided into nine administrative regions. The administrative reorganization of 1960 redivided it into five regions and the city of Prague. In 1969, Bohemia, along with Moravia and Czech Silesia, was incorporated into the Czech Socialist Republic, renamed the Czech Republic in 1990. The Czech RepublicCzech Republic,
Czech Česká Republika (2005 est. pop. 10,241,000), republic, 29,677 sq mi (78,864 sq km), central Europe. It is bordered by Slovakia on the east, Austria on the south, Germany on the west, and Poland on the north.
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 became an independent state when Czechoslovakia was dissolved on Jan. 1, 1993.


See C. E. Maurice, Bohemia from the Earliest Times to the Foundation of the Czecho-Slovak Republic in 1918 (2d ed. 1922); J. Macek, The Hussite Movement in Bohemia (tr. 1965); S. Z. Pech, The Czech Revolution of 1848 (1969); E. Beneš, Bohemia's Case for Independence (1917, repr. 1971); R. Miller, Bohemia: The Protoculture Then and Now (1978); G. Levitine, The Dawn of Bohemianism (1982).



(Late Latin; from Latin Boiohaemum, “land of the Boii”). (1) The original name of the territory on which the Czech state was formed.

(2) From 1526 until 1918 the official name (German, Böhmen) of the Czech land (Cechy), which was then a part of the Hapsburg Empire.

Shrove Tuesday

Between February 3 and March 9; day before Ash Wednesday
There are a number of names in the West for the last day before the long fast of Lent. The French call it Mardi Gras (meaning "Fat Tuesday"), because it was traditionally a time to use up all the milk, butter, and eggs left in the kitchen. These ingredients often went into pancakes, which is why the English call it Pancake Day and still celebrate it with games and races that involve tossing pancakes in the air.
Other names include Shuttlecock (or Football ) Day, after sports associated with this day; Doughnut Day ; Bannock (or Bannocky ) Day (a bannock being the Scottish equivalent of a pancake), and Fastingong (meaning "approaching a time of fast"). The name "Shrove Tuesday" is derived from the Christian custom of confessing sins and being "shriven" (i.e., absolved) just before Lent.
In northern Sweden, people eat a meat stew. In the south, they eat Shrove Tuesday buns called semlor, made with cardamom, filled with almond paste, and topped with whipped cream.
No matter what its name, the day before Ash Wednesday has long been a time for excessive eating and merrymaking. The Mardi Gras parade in New Orleans is typical of the masquerades and dancing in the streets that take place in many countries on this day as people prepare for the long Lenten fast.
See also Carnival; Cheese Sunday; Cheese Week; Fasching; Fastens-een
AmerBkDays-2000, p. 128
EncyEaster-2002, p. 561
OxYear-1999, p. 606

Celebrated in: Estonia, Finland, Netherlands

Shrove Tuesday (Bohemia)
Between February 3 and March 9; day before Ash Wednesday
In the Bohemian region of the Czech Republic, a mummer known as the "Oats Goat" traditionally is led from house to house on Shrove Tuesday. He dances with the women of the house, and in return they feed him and give him money. Like the Fastnachtsbär (or Shrovetide Bear) in parts of Germany, the Oats Goat is dressed in straw and wears horns on his head. He is associated with fertility; at one time it was widely believed that dancing with the Fastnachtsbär ensured the growth of crops.
DictFolkMyth-1984, pp. 370, 807

Shrove Tuesday (Estonia)
Between February 3 and March 9; day before Ash Wednesday
Schools are closed in Estonia on the last day before Lent, known as Vastla Päev, and children often spend the entire day sledding. At night, their mothers serve a traditional Shrove Tuesday soup, which is made from pigs' feet boiled with dried peas or lima beans. After dinner, the children play with the vuriluu kont, or the bones left over from the pigs' feet soup. A hole is drilled in each bone and a doubled rope is inserted through the hole. When the contrivance is manipulated in a certain way it causes a terrific rattle, which delights the children and is a traditional way to end the day's celebration.
BkFest-1937, p. 102

Celebrated in: Estonia

Shrove Tuesday (Finland)
Between February 3 and March 9; day before Ash Wednesday
Children in Finland often spend Shrove Tuesday, a school holiday, sledding and enjoying other outdoor sports. According to an old folk saying, the better the coasting and the longer the hills one rides on Laskiaispäivä, the more bountiful the coming harvest will be. A typical Finnish meal on this day would include pea soup and blini, or rich pancakes, served with caviar and smetana, a kind of sour milk. A typical dessert consists of wheat buns filled with almond paste, placed in deep dishes, and eaten with hot milk.
There are many folk beliefs surrounding Shrove Tuesday. At one time, women would not spin on this day, believing that if they did, no flax would grow the following summer. Men refrained from planing wood, the common wisdom being that if farm animals walked on the chips made by the planes, their feet would become swollen and sore.
BkFest-1937, p. 111

Celebrated in: Finland

Shrove Tuesday (Netherlands)
Between February 3 and March 9; day before Ash Wednesday
The day preceding the Lenten fast is known as Vastenavond (Fast Eve) in the Netherlands, where it is a time for feasting and merrymaking. In the provinces of Limburg and Brabant, it is customary to eat pancakes and oliebollen, or rich fried cakes with currants, raisins, and apples added. Brabant specializes in worstebrood, a special kind of bread that appears ordinary on the outside but is filled with spiced sausage meat.
In the southern part of the country, the Carnival season lasts for three days, beginning on the Sunday before Ash Wednesday. In other areas, the celebration is confined to one day. The farmers of Schouwen-en-Duiveland, on the island of Zeeland, still observe the old Vastenavond custom of gathering at the village green with their horses in the afternoon. The animals are carefully groomed and decorated with paper roses. The men ride their horses down to the beach, making sure the animals get their feet wet. The leader of the procession toots on a horn. It is possible that this custom originated in an ancient spring purification rite, when blowing horns was believed to drive away evil spirits and getting wet was a symbolic act of cleansing.
BkFest-1937, p. 241
FestWestEur-1958, p. 124
FolkAmerHol-1999, p. 102

Celebrated in: Netherlands

Shrove Tuesday (Pennsylvania Dutch)
Between February 3 and March 9; day before Ash Wednesday
Among the Pennsylvania Dutch, work is taboo on Shrove Tuesday, just as it is on other religious holidays. There is an old superstition that if a woman sews on Shrove Tuesday, she will prevent her hens from laying their eggs. Some believe that sewing on this day means that the house will be visited by snakes during the spring and summer.
A special kind of cake or doughnut known as a fasnacht is eaten on this day. Rectangular with a slit down the middle, it is often soaked with molasses and then dunked in saffron tea. Sometimes the fasnachts were crumbled and fed to the chickens in the belief that it would prevent the hawks from snatching the chicks in the spring. Another old custom associated with Shrove Tuesday is "barring out," or locking the teacher out of the local school. In many areas, Christmas is barring-out day.
EncyChristmas-2000, p. 35
FolkAmerHol-1999, p. 100


1. a former kingdom of central Europe, surrounded by mountains: independent from the 9th to the 13th century; belonged to the Hapsburgs from 1526 until 1918
2. an area of the W Czech Republic, formerly a province of Czechoslovakia (1918--1949). From 1939 until 1945 it formed part of the German protectorate of Bohemia-Moravia
References in periodicals archive ?
Contact point(s): Arriva VE'chodnE[degrees] Cechy a.
17 "On the Seashore", Vzpominky na Cechy ve forme polek [Memories of Bohemia in the form of polkas] op.
Contractor address : Od tepnE' zEivod oblast Cechy zEipad, zEivod Ceske Budejovice, PlanEi 72
It is at this point that there appear at least hints of Knizak's dream of a "wild, vivid, disharmonic" orchestra, with Psajdl's trumpet and the thickly employed traditional percussion music heading in the direction of brass band music (Pochod Aktualu [March of the Aktuals], Zivotje boj [Life is a Struggle], Milujte Jizni Cechy [Love South Bohemia]).
Contact point: OddelenE[degrees] oprav dEilnic oblast Cechy