The Masopust Parade - The Czech Mardi Gras 2009

Mardi Gras or "Carnival" is celebrated in many parts of the world. In the Czech Republic, people celebrate a season of merrymaking and masquerading called Masopust, literally meaning "good-bye to meat."

Each village has its own version of the celebration, although the basics are similar: masks, costumes, dance and processions. What's more, like many Christian festivals, Masopust incorporates elements of much older traditions, involving fertility rites and celebrating the coming of spring.

Masopust festivities were halted by the Communists in the Sixties, but resumed in 1993. Since then the tradition has continued, and today the Czech people celebrate Masopust with the same gusto as their ancestors did in the Middle Ages.

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