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- Module 3: An Unforgettable Weekend in Studnice
(Photos: www.obecstudnice.cz with kind permission)
You will accompany a group of Erasmus students who are paying a visit to one of their Czech study-buddies Anna. Anna´s family live on a farm in Studnice, a small village in the Bohemian-Moravian Highlands, which is famous for an event with more than 200 years old tradition. The students don´t know yet what to expect and it´ll be a huge surprise for them and for you as well. Follow the instructions on this page in their order as they tell one story!
- I The Invitation
Chiara from Italy with her best friend Yara from Brazil, Onni from Finland, Alysia from the USA and Antonio from Spain are sitting in a homey café in the centre of Brno, the student capital of the Czech Republic. The place is really bustling due to the exam time. They are waiting for Yasmin, their German fellow student, and Anna, who is their Czech study-buddy. They are mobility programme students finishing their one semester exchange at the Masaryk University. “Hey, guys! Have you been waiting long?” asked Anna and Yasmin storming in, both red in the face of cold February weather and rush. “Not really. We´ve just arrived.” “Listen! Are you up to anything next weekend?” asked Anna. “Not really. Why? Do you have any plans?”
“I´d like to invite you to come with me to our family farm and experience something amazing. Next Friday we´ll slaughter one of our pigs. It´s a sort of traditional Czech feast. We call it “zabíjačka”. It´s a time of family and friends get-together. So I´d be very pleased to have you there. And you must stay until Sunday because on Saturday there will be traditional “Masopust” in our village. It´s a tradition which has been passed from generation to generation for a million years, I guess. It was even added to the UNESCO List of Intangible Cultural Heritage some years ago. Do you fancy coming? You´ll love it. It´s fun.”
“Sounds cool!” “Wow!” “Can´t wait to see it!” the crowd responded.
“Anna, I´m sorry, but you know that I´m a vegan”, Yasmin replied. “And I have my last exam next Friday. So sorry, guys, I have to pass. But you must post pictures on the Instagram, so I can follow. But not the murder of the poor piggy, please.”
- II The journeyTo learn what happened next, read the story and follow the instructions below.
- III Not for vegans – a pig-slaughtering feast
Early in the morning the yard was bustling with people: the whole family, some friends and the butcher. Before the visitors arrived, the pig had already been killed with a quick headshot and bled out. The blood was carefully collected and the housewife was stirring it in a big pot. It will be used for sausages and soup later. The pig was placed in a huge wooden washtub. The butcher sprinkled it with powdered rosin all over and then he poured boiling water over it to scald the hair. Onni and Antonio helped scrape off the hair with special “bells”. The scraped pig was then hung upside down from a metal tripod. Next, the butcher slit it open and he removed the internal organs. After that, the pig had to be washed out properly. Then the butcher cut off the head, the belly fat and the front legs. Every single part of the pig would be used. The guts and the stomach for example would be as the sausage and headcheese casings and must be washed carefully. Now it was time to move to the kitchen.
- IV In the kitchen
To learn what happened next, read the story and follow the instructions below.
- V The Red Ones and the Black Ones
After a rich breakfast Anna and her friends dashed to the village green. The place was already buzzing. A brass band was playing traditional songs, male villagers young and old were dressed in merry colourful costumes. Dozens of onlookers, laughing, singing along with the band, chatting. The weather was rather chilly, so almost everyone tried to warm up with a shot of slivovice (traditional plum brandy). At nine o´clock the Strawman blew a bull´s horn as many times as the number of masks was present, and the procession started moving. It´ll be a hard day as they have to visit every single house not only in the village but in adjacent settlements as well. Only the houses where people mourn deceased kin will be avoided. The first house to start with is the mayor´s. The procession has to ask for the official permission for the round.
- VI Killing the Mare
After the last house of a hundred had been visited, the last dance danced and last shots of slivovice drunk up, the villagers and onlookers gathered in front of a former school building. The Mare had to be punished for its sins. One of the Jews read his final testimony in which he mentioned all sins which the Mare had committed over the year. While he was reading, the Mare tried to escape from the circle of costumes gathered around. Finally, the sentence was pronounced over the poor Mare. It was slaughtered ritually by one of the Knackers, put on a stretcher and carried away. The band was playing a funeral march. All of a sudden the Mare jumped off the stretcher laughing and everyone headed to the local pub, where a merry dance party was about to start.Anna and her friends couldn´t miss it. They danced and had fun until midnight. Then there was a solo dance of every single member of the parade. After that, the costumes were packed again and they wait for the next shrovetide.
(Source:www.obecstudnice.cz with kind permission)
- VII Pregón, Carnivale, Mardi Gras, Laskiaistiistai
Next noon the family and visitors gathered for a delicious lunch. They enjoyed chicken soup with home-made noodles and typical Czech roasted pork with cabbage and dumplings.
“Did you enjoy the Shrovetide yesterday?” Anna´s mother asked with a bright smile on her face.
“Oh yes, we did! It was awesome. I can´t wait to tell friends at home,” Onni replied. “We have a festival the last day before beginning of Lent, too but it is more like the celebration of winter.”
“And we have Mardi Gras in the US,” said Alysia and for next two hours a lively debate on national carnival traditions filled the kitchen.
- VIII The End
Late in the afternoon the group of Erasmus students left Studnice and went back to Brno. Their German friend Yasmin was already waiting for them, eager for stories from the carnival weekend. She had a good news for them as well. She had passed her last exam!