Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Lantern Parades and Pumpkin Carving

This week we had a jack-o-lantern carving and lantern parading day at K's preschool. I thought the combination was interesting (Halloween is not very widespread here).

The lantern parade (lampionový průvod) is a tradition in this part of the world, though nobody can tell me why exactly other than it was mandatory-participation under the socialist regime. This is a good description of the German version, which is probably similar to what the Czech one was before it was co-opted for the glory of the Red Army. Now, however, it is just for fun.

The Slovak couldn't take off work for the afternoon, so Baby M and I headed out to school by ourselves, armed with a pumpkin and a knife. When we got to school, however, I discovered we were in fact armed with just a pumpkin. The knife must have fallen out along the way!

M was gracious enough to be unusually content sitting by himself in the stroller so I could borrow a knife and help carve K's pumpkin.

K of course left me to do the scooping and carving because she wanted to roast an apple. Then she wanted me to roast her apple for her, too (I didn't), presumably WHILE carving and looking over my shoulder praying her brother wouldn't decide he'd had enough with waiting patiently.

The pumpkin turned out kind of wonky looking, but for never having done it before and having the shortest amount of time possible for actual carving, I considered not cutting off any of my fingers to be a rousing success.

Then it started to rain so we all huddled under the cover available.

Then it stopped raining, they handed out paper lanterns with tea candles in them, which K obviously wanted me to hold for her (I didn't), so we could set out on the walk.

The teachers had set all the jack-o-lanterns along the path so we could pass by and admire them. At the end of the path the children gathered around in a circle with tea candles in the middle and sang a few songs about autumn. Also Boleslav, Boleslav.

K was in her element as she is one of her school's star singers (according to her teacher), which may have to do with an actual sense of pitch or may simply indicate that she sings nice and loud. When the teacher said in the middle of one song, "Sing louder, kids, I can't hear you!" they all perked up and K and her friend were very nearly shouting.

(K does, in fact, have a good sense of pitch and I believe she will have a good singing voice when she is older, but especially in groups she seems to believe volume is key. Maybe because they're always being told to sing out, I don't know. It was sweet, though.)

About that time Baby M decided he had truly had enough and started making his feelings known from (and about) the stroller.

Then we headed back to school, picking up our pumpkin on the way, said goodbye to our friends, and headed home in the dark. I was watching the path the whole way, wondering if someone had found and hurt themself/others with my lost knife.

Along the way we stopped for a pastry and met Apo, who was just coming from work. He carried the thoroughly-fed-up M on his shoulders and I pushed the way-too-tired K in the stroller.

We stopped at the Chinese take-out place, which also serves fried cheese and french fries (a typical Czech meal). We always order it (along with actual Chinese food) and laugh that our children will probably think smažák is a traditional Chinese dish. In fact that's just the only restaurant around that does take-out.

As we walked the last stretch home, we filled Apo in on what he had missed.

Me: "...and then we did the lampionový průchod." (lantern parade)
Apo, looking at me like I'm dumb: "Průvod."
Me: "Seriously? I may have said průchod earlier today. I hope nobody heard me."
Apo: (laughing at me)
K: "Mami, co je průchod?" (what's a průchod?)
Me: "PRŮVOD, člověče, copak to nevíš???" (it's PRŮVOD, man, everybody knows that!)
Apo: (still laughing at me)

Just to show that I still make dumb mistakes once in a while :)

Then we went home, where I found my lost knife in the entryway. It must have fallen out right after I put it in my bag.

It was fun, but I think I've had enough lanterns until next year!


  1. Nice to read about others doing it...

  2. I agree with Annabelle, I make silly mistakes all the time! Is průchod a word with a different meaning?

    I love lantern festivals, we have them in the summer here. I read a book about lanterns all over the world last month, it had the German one but not the Czech.

  3. I love your description of this parade - it sounds so true to how things go with kids! Still, sounds like it was a fun time overall. I think it's fascinating that it was probably a Christian tradition adopted and reworked by the Communist regime. Thanks for sharing!

  4. This was such a great post - so honest about how fun with littles also has a twinge of stress in the worry about when it will be too much and will there be a meltdown. Also lovely to read about the merging of Halloween and the Lantern Parade.



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