Museums and Witch Burnings

Trip Start Mar 17, 2012
Trip End May 20, 2012

Flag of Czech Republic  , Bohemia,
Monday, April 30, 2012

Jewish Museum

In the beginning of the day we went to the old Jewish quarter there we learnt what it was like there in Nazis time. On the walls of the Jewish quarter in the Pinkas synagogue where millions of names where written. The names are of all the last and first names of the Jews who where taken to concentration camps like Bergen Belson, Auchwiz and Terezin. Some of the names were recognized by some names in Kenora like Scheibler, Kirschner and Shwarts, (and to all of you who have a name up there you will get lots of respect in the Jewish town.) The names are of a memorial to all the people who where killed by the Nazis in the areas Bohemia and Moravia. Upstairs there was art work done by children when they where in the camps for some it said who made them. The pictures where drawn of their lives before the Nazi. After looking at the pictures I remembered that the Soviets had taken over Czech Republic when my favourite NHL players from Czech Republic like Plekanec, Halak, Spacek and Hamirlik where just kids (if I'm wrong about some of them I mean no offence.) After that we saw the old Jewish Cemetery which dates back to 1439.  There are almost 12,000 tombstones in the cemetery with over 100,00 people buried 7 caskets high in the cemetery.  The head stones have tipped over and are crooked because of the soft ground.  After that we went to the Klausen synagogue and the Maisel synagogue the synagogues are fairly large churches where they had information about the history of the Jews of Prague. The last place we went to was The Ceremonial Hall where it explains Jewish beliefs for health. In some of the places we (the men in the family) wore Kippas (religious saucer shaped cap) which are hats Jewish males wear as respect to God. The Jews lead very respectful and peaceful lives.
Witch Burning
I am amazed by how differently most Europeans act but this is a little bit odd. In the beginning of the witch burning every one just sits around eats potato spirals (sort of like potato chips in salt), cotton candy, drink soda and eat sausages (fine by me). And now for the odd part, every one gathers around a pile of wood and news paper and they start beating drums. Then they stick a witch doll (human size) tied to a stick right through the middle of the wood pile. Then they squirt oil on the wood pile and on the doll. Then someone has a giant stick with newspaper wrapped to the tip and squirt oil on there home made torch. After that they light a match and set the torch to flames the person then jabs the torch through the centre of the wood pile and it bursts to flames. The witch doll then falls into flaming pieces and falls apart. The other witches (people dressed up like witches???) dance around the fire while the witch doll burns.  Which is odd, because they are dancing while one of their own burns...???

This ritual is a symbol of the beginning of spring.  It was thought that witches did not like the heat of summer, so in Medieval times they would burn a witch to let the warmth of summer come to the lands.
After burning the doll two professional flame dancers came up with strings and on the ends where torches (unlit) then one dipped both ends in gas and lit it to flames then she started swinging it all over. It looked like she was going to catch to flames a couple of times. Then the man did it. After a couple turns the man blind folded himself and did it again (this time adding flips). It was amazing especially because of the fact he was in a small ring of millions of people and if he made one wrong move every one would catch on fire... but they did it!  After that we went home shivering.

By: Nathan
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