As you know, Monday 1st April is the Easter Monday, a bank holiday. In a lot of countries, we don’t work on this day, especially for Christians and Jewish people. Easter is a religious celebration, and also an opportunity to enjoy some chocolate eggs, and it is a bank holiday in the Czech Republic.
Bank Holidays and their traditions
- 1st January: Like everywhere in the world, 1st of January is the first day of the year and is a bank holiday in lot of countries. To welcome the new year in Czech Republic the locals, foreigners, students, and families celebrate with romantic outings in Prague, ski-runs, beers, traditional restaurants. Everybody can find the happiness on the 1st of January in Czech Republic.
Here, there is a special tradition for the New Years dinner. The Czechs eat vegetarian meals on the 31st December. Why? If the animal comes back to the life, it could be leave with all the happiness of the moment. So, lentils are traditionally publicly recognized, sign of abundant wealth.
It should be noted that 1st of January is also the day of separation between Czech Republic and Slovakia.
- Easter Monday: Origins of Easter go back to pagan period. It celebrated vernal equinox and wild being awake. But it has been adopted by Christians to celebrate Jesus’ resurrection.
In Czech Republic and pagan tradition, boys flog girl with wicker (pussywillow) stick on the Easter Monday. They have painted eggs in reward. Also, But on Monday, girls want to spray boys with cold water to get their own back. Now, traditions as well as commercial aspect develop whips and painted eggs on this period.
Eggs are also symbol of the event and have, with baking, an important role in preparation of Eastern meal. You could eat particularly the Paschal brioche in shape of lamb.
If you like also monuments and castles, the Easter weekend is an opportunity to visit the Krivoklat Castle on a tank engine. You could admire landscapes during the travel, visit monuments and take a stroll in the traditional handicraft market. The return ticket is approximately 175 CZK. This special chance makes the charm of this little village.
- 1st May: This date is not only the Labor Day in Czech Republic. It’s also the Love Day. If you don’t know Karel Hynek Macha, I recommend you to go to the PetřÍn Hill the 1st of May. You will find the statue of this famous and romantic Czech poet. It is encircled by several couples, who let some flowers and share their mutual love. The tradition is to kiss the sweetheart under a cherry tree or a birch.
(Extract of “May” poem)
In some villages, the tradition was to erect a tree of May, to embellish and protect it from neighboring villages. In the evening, single men and women get together to celebrate this day.
For students, this day is also the opportunity to party. You could meet a student parade, musical concerts, and some skills competitions. These parties are named Majáles.
- 8th May: Victory in Europe Day and commemoration of Liberation of Czechoslovakia in 1945. Nazis surrendered on the 8th and the Red army arrives in Prague the 9th. However, go on until the 11th.
- 5th July: Celebration of Christianization in ninth-century, of the Big Moravia, by famous missionaries Saints Cyril and Methodius (Cyrillic alphabet inventors). So, Czech and Slavic tribes take their place in Prague region. Acknowledgement of two saints “equals to apostles” occurs the 11th of May but Catholic Church celebrates them the 5th of July.
- 6th July: This day is the death date of Jan Hus in 1415. This education officer of Prague University wasn’t anyone: an anti-papist father, he slags off lust of bishops, and wanted to reform Church. He has also condemned the German dominance on Clergy of Bohemia. He managed to change the Bethlehem Church, in Prague, to a patriot center. The German Emperor Sigismond was furious and tried to take possession of Bohemia. Jan Hus is arrested and sentenced to the pyre.
- 28th September: National Holiday paying tribute to Saint Wenceslas, Prince of Bohemia. In few words, Saint Wenceslas is the patron saint of Czech Republic. He was Duke of Bohemia and also patron of brewers and wine-growers.
To know more about Saint Wenceslas, one of the most famous Czech people, you can find a bigger article on our blog.
- 28th October: This day is also a National Day because in 1918, Czechoslovakia Republic becomes independent. Since 1526, Czech and Slovakian countries were in the Austro-Hungarian Empire. But Czech society had never admitted that this empire was theirs. At the end of the First World War, the fate of the empire has to be decided by the Triple Entente. Wilson, the president of USA announced that different nations of the Austro-Hungarian Empire have to decide their fate for themselves.
So, Masaryk declared, independence of Czechoslovakia. The 28th of October, flags are on the Wenceslas square, crowd goes on the street to parade and chant the winners’ name.
- 17th November: The famous Velvet Revolution. In 1989, the communist party of Czechoslovakia does a violent and brutal crushing on student protesting about the 50th anniversary of Czech universities closing by Nazis. In this way start strikes and protest in Prague, to fight against communism. The population goes down in the street and become more and more massive. The Wenceslas Square was full! Vaclav Havel was the population’s representative, had created a patriotic forum and it sacks the Communist Party management. The power is totally paralyzed, lose its support and is unable to react against protestation even though they were peaceful. No fights but a victory: The Velvet Revolution.
The Velvet Revolution
- 24th, 25th and 26th December: In Czech Republic, Christmas in on 3 days, and Bank Holidays. These days are, of course, more important days for Czech.
The 24th, the traditional food is a breaded carp with a potatoes salad. Gifts are let at the Christmas tree on the same evening. This day is named: The Generosity Day.
The breaded Carp
The 25th, Czechs stay in with their family, and enjoy another big meal. This day is not as important as the 24th. But it permits to share good time without big ritual. Ingredients of the meal depend on family or regional traditions.
The 26th, it’s Saint Etienne. Meals are more often made up of poultry meat. It’s the last bank holiday of the year.
Christmas in the Old Town