February in Pilsen – the season of traditions
In Pilsen, the winter months belong to banqueting and old, near-forgotten traditions. It’s a time full of pig roasting, Masopust parades, carnivals, and balls. The breweries start brewing their Easter specials, which will ripen during Lent. What does this season look like in Pilsen and which traditions can you expect to run into during your visit here?
Traditional Masopust and the burning of Bacchus
Traditional Masopust feasts were once held in almost every village and town around Pilsen, which later grew into parts of the city like Bolevec, Černice, and Radčice. There were three days of lively celebrations that preceded Ash Wednesday, which announced the 40 days of fasting before Easter. In past years, the celebrations have returned to these areas. And this year, you can see for yourself on 10 February during the Masopust feast at the Old Farmhouse “U Matoušů” at the Bolevec village green. The tradition will not only include the masked parade but also a fair, children’s workshops, folklore performances, and, of course, roasted pork specialties, as is custom to these celebrations.
Traditional pig roasting feasts
The days before Ash Wednesday is pig roasting time. Pig roasts have been part of our winter months for as long as we can remember, and the reason is obvious: meat is much easier to process and store in cold weather. Come and visit Pilsen on 10 February to try delicacies like black pudding, tripe sausage, brawn, pork head, and black sausage at Habrman’s Park or the restaurant Lokál pod Divadlem. You can also visit Zlatá kráva Bandaska for their non-traditional, street food-style roasted pork. If you have children, you can take them to the Masopust feasts at Farm Park u Toma on 17 February. And last but not least, the Pilsner Urquell Brewery has its own feast planned for 9 March.
Winter beer traditions
Many of us may believe beer belongs to the summer months when we’re cooled off by glasses full of dewy golden liquid, but beer is also a big part of winter. A pig roasting festival without beer is like the same festival without pork sausage. Beer is also a beverage you’re allowed to drink during Lent. Stretching as far back as the 17th century, monks in their monasteries drew strength, energy, and, most importantly, nutrients during their fast by drinking especially strong beer, nicknamed “liquid bread” or “fasting beer”. In fact, it was the pope himself who permitted them to drink beer during their fast. Interestingly, the Pilsner Urquell Brewery brews a traditional batch of blessed beer for the pope in February.
If you like tasting interesting beers, then you should definitely attend the festival of small breweries called Brūstok on 1 and 2 March, which will be traditionally held at DEPO2015. Here you’ll enjoy beer from over two dozen microbreweries and likely find the right nutritious beverage to get you through the long days of Lent.