Sunday, March 1, 2015

Burying the Bass--A Czech Tradition

Jasenka, my favorite Czech Folk group
 I love Czech folk dancing and Czech folk traditions.

Here we are at Fašanky, the Wallachian word for the pre-Lenten Carnival, dancing and singing and playing up a storm in traditional costumes.

That's meat on those swords--
Czech sausage that people might give up for Lent
Though my students and friends can't tell me why,
the bear is a traditional mascot of Carnival (Masopust) here.
And the pig's fun too.
Now comes the Burial of the Bass--Jasekna style
A drunken gravedigger starts measuring the grave in chalk.
A frowning communist police officer with a big gun comes to give him trouble.
Even after he accepts a bribe of slivovice (local plum brandy), he's no less demanding
Now comes the procession:
solemn girls draped in white sheets and carrying candles
The still-drunk gravedigger
Death with his scythe
Weeping girls in folk costume
The still-frowning communist officers who demands IDs from unsuspecting members of the audience
Serious Mafia-like pall-bearers with the bass on their shoulders
A happy Gypsy with her pet bear
The rather sacrilegious pope--who has just sprinkled us with holy water with a toilet brush.
And during all of it, folk musicians give more slivovice to the mourners

Highly entertaining, all of it.  

Now the bass is buried. No more music or merriment all during Lent, I suppose.  
Although in this not-terribly-religious country, I suspect the music and merriment will go on.    

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