Public holidays in the Czech republic
Which public holidays are celebrated in the Czech Republic?
During public holidays, you will often encounter different opening hours for shops and business, with some being closed for the day. Public transport is less frequent; governed by festive timetables, with schools and public institutions being closed completely. When a holiday falls on a Thursday or a Tuesday, people often take a one-day holiday in between, to extend their weekend. Traffic in and around Prague is often very busy at the start and end of public holidays, with traffic jams likely. By contrast, during the daytime, you may well find that the streets of Prague are quiet, with few parked cars, and limited numbers of people on public transport.
So, what public holidays are celebrated in the Czech Republic and what do they mean to the Czech people?
Restoration Day of the Independent Czech State (1st January)
On 1st January 1993, the Czech and Slovak Federative Republics were divided into two states – the Czech Republic and the Slovak Republic.
New Year (1st January)
In the Czech Republic, people meet with friends and family on 31st December to celebrate the arrival of the New Year. At midnight, a toast to good health with Champagne, with people announcing their New Year’s resolutions. The fireworks begin a few hours before midnight and continue until the early hours. On the first few days of January, people usually wish a happy and successful year ahead, either by email, when greeting neighbours, or during a business meeting.
Good Friday (March / April)
This holiday, approved by the Chamber of Deputies in 2015, is ‘movable’, as it doesn’t fall on the same date each year. The Christian tradition says that Jesus Christ was crucified on Good Friday. This day also coincides with a number of celebrations of the coming of spring: A rainy Good Friday – makes the year thirsty. When it floods on Good Friday, it will be grown in the field.
Easter Monday (March / April)
Easter also has no fixed date on the calendar. It symbolises the resurrection of Jesus Christ and is associated with many traditions, which are still celebrated in many villages across southern and central Moravia. In general, Czechs put up decorations with a spring theme and paint easter eggs. There is a tradition of men and boys visiting the local houses with ‘Pomlázka’, a stick of braided willow branches, with which they whip the women and girls in a playful manner. The tradition is said to bring fertility and good luck for the rest of the year. However, if the men arrive after 12pm they are greeted with a bucket of water.
Labor Day (1st May)
The origins of the labor holiday date back to the second half of the 19th century, when a strong working-class movement, in the USA, held massive demonstrations for their rights, including the 8 hour working day. 1st May was officially announced in 1889 as International Labor Day.
People in the Czech Republic often remember the 1st of May in connection with the obligatory first-day processions of socialism. Their participants waved banners and red flags, accompanied by ‘joyful’ music. All Czechoslovakian and Soviet flags had to be displayed on all buildings.
Nowadays, however, 1st May is rather perceived as a holiday of love. According to tradition, a couple should kiss under a blossoming cherry tree to keep their love strong. So don’t be surprised to see people kissing in the park.
Author: Míša Benešovská
I’m a freelance journalist and copywriter, mainly covering IT industry. I’ve been fascinated by it for nearly a quarter of a century (or since I dismantled my first computer). I worked for Seznam.cz, Unicorn Systems or Mafra publisher. In my spare time, I love game consoles and keep perfecting a recipe for the best pumpkin risotto in the world.
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