Masopust is the February festival in the Czech Republic that most resembles Mardi Gras. This is a time of drinking: loads of roast pork (cooked on open spits), washed down with cold beer (“pivo”) and plenty of other drinks like absinthe.
This party — which literally means something like “going without meat” — is marked by the use of masks and outlandish fancy dress. It is a time of indulgence and excess prior to the 40-day fast; it is believed it is pre-christian in origin. The mask-wearing likely represents the spirits of the dead (who apparently walk about at this time of year); there is a suggestion of sun worship, too. Devils, chimney sweeps and a host of animal figures make up the parade including a horse that collects doughnuts and an array of mad creatures from your worst nightmares.
This is one time of the year when you don’t need to drink absinthe to see the green fairy in the Czech Republic.