Friday, April 22, 2011

Celebrating a Good Friday Earth Day!

It both fascinates and amuses me that Good Friday this year should also fall on Earth Day.  Why? The continuing saga of my tradition research. According to an old Czech saying, for example, farming should not be done on Good Friday. Na velký pátek zemi nehýbej. ("On Good Friday, do not move the soil.") And yet, in Ireland, little or no work was done on the land, except for the planting of a small quantity of grain or potatoes to invoke a blessing on the crops. Czechs believe turning the soil is a bad thing on this day, but the Irish believe turning the soil to plant potatoes is a blessing. I love this stuff!

For the Czechs, the weather for the whole year is foretold from the weather on Velký pátek (Good Friday). For instance, if it rains on Velký pátek, then the rest of the year will be dry. They have a saying, "A rainy Good Friday makes for a thirsty year." Another belief is that on Velký pátek, according to legend, anyone can look upon the sun without being blinded by its glare. In folk tradition this day is closely connected with the belief in the magic powers of the Earth - how appropriate, then, that it should fall this year on Earth Day! Many believe that on this day the Earth gives up its secret treasures before sunrise.

It was believed that Mt. Blaník opens up for a couple of hours on this day. Mt. Blaník is famous among the Czechs as it's said that an army of Czech knights lies asleep within the mountain, waiting to come forth and help the nation in its hour of greatest danger, that when the Motherland is in danger in its darkest times and close to ruin, the equestrian statue of King Wenceslas will come to life. He will raise the sleeping army in  Blaník, and upon crossing the Charles Bridge his horse will stumble and trip over a stone, revealing the legendary sword of  Bruncvík.  With this sword, King Wenceslas will slay all of the enemies of the Czechs, bringing peace and prosperity to the land.

Kind of reminds me of King Arthur.

On a more mundane level, the day was spent making sure the house, yard and out-buildings were clean and tidy.

Sounds like an ideal way to spend  Earth Day!

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