|Children enjoy the balloon drop.|
Masopust is a long-time tradition of the Czech Republic. It means carnival, and is celebrated in the days leading up to Ash Wednesday, similar to the tradition of Mardi Gras or Fat Tuesday. Traditionally, people feast and celebrate by dressing in costume and dancing or having festivals. The members of Jan Zizka No. 67 in Yukon, OK have carried on elements of this tradition for over ten years in their community with a dance.
President Elaine Benda shared, "We thought Mardi Gras tends to be more of an adult party, and Masopust would be fun for our community as it is a more family-oriented celebration of the holiday." The public is always invited to dances at the lodge, which they have weekly. It is an opportunity for people of all ages and backgrounds to come and dance, learn about Czech music, food, and family-oriented Czech heritage.
"All of our active members love the way we embrace Czech traditions and preserve them by teaching others about them. Of our newest members, I would say they have expressed that this is why they wanted to join our lodge. They enjoy our weekly Czech dances and the way we encourage families, young and old alike, to have a place to come and enjoy good music, meet old and new friends, and just be safe and happy," Benda commented.
|Guests and members don festive costumes.|
For this special occasion, music was provided by the appropriately named Masopust Polka Band. Masopust is the family name of the band leader and helped inspire the event.
In addition to Polka, guests wore costumes, fun hats, masks, or just decorated themselves. Some children wore their Halloween costumes. Beads were provided to everyone at the door. There was plenty of food to prepare for those who may be eating less during Lent. Items included klobasy, hot dogs, and kolache.
A lot of people really enjoyed the prizes. Items included jerky, glow necklaces, toys, cakes, cookies, and many more things. The children not only enjoyed their trinkets, but enjoyed helping hand out the prizes.
In this community, it may be one of the few ways that people can celebrate Masopust. The members of No. 67 have really made an effort to re-introduce it to the community. First-time guests to the event are given a mask or hat so they can have it for the next year when they come back. Efforts are made every year to keep it growing. The community can rely on having this lodge continue this dance and many other events. When they do Halloween and Valentine's dances, the music may be more traditionally American, but its still a fun time!
Historically, many lodges would have held these kind of events for their communities, but they have become less common in recent memory. No. 67 is unique by holding these weekly dances with the support of their volunteer members. They love it and enjoy serving the community.
Elaine Benda commented, "There are fewer places that a family can afford to go and there are also few places that allow all ages to interact. Additionally, we are promoting physical fitness--dancing with your family and friends is so much healthier than sitting and playing a video game or watching a movie! Plus, we are teaching people about the Czech heritage, showcasing the arts, and we have a museum in the hall to educate about the Czech history, as well as the history of our community. Our members are really proud of all of this. I am proud of how hard our members work to make this all happen 52 weeks a year for over 100 years and still going strong!"
Call 877-935-2467 to speak with a Western Fraternal Life Representative.