Czech firefighters to allow Čarodejnice ‘witch-burnings’

30-04-2020

Firefighters will not ban the traditional Čarodějnice witch-burning ceremonies on April 30, Interior Minister Jan Hamáček told reporters, as recent rains have reduced the risk of bonfires spreading accidentally.

The burning of rag-and-straw witches on Čarodějnice ceremonially marks that winter has come to an end. The tradition developed from an ancient pagan belief that witches were especially active on the night of April 30.

In modern times, Czechs gather on Čarodějnice chance to eat, drink and be merry around a roaring bonfire. Many dress up as witches and warlocks, or in other fanciful costumes. Social-distancing measures in place due to the coronavirus pandemic will limit such gatherings to ten people.

During the festival period, there is an increase in unintentional fires every year. Last April 30, firefighters were called to extinguish 64 fires, and the year before to 136.