Posted by on Oct 8 2012. Filed under Events & Culture, The Daily .cz. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

Czech Autumn Holiday Season Approaching

Czechs are going to have more days off with shorter and cooler days ahead. The reasons are simple. Autumn is underway and the Czechs have three big state holidays every year.

Recently, people had a free Friday on 28 September. So who have the Czechs to thank for having a longer weekend?

Saint Wenceslaus I, Duke of Bohemia was a medieval ruler in the Czech lands. He died at the hands of his younger brother Boleslav on 28 September, 935. His martyrdom, and the popularity of several biographies, quickly gave rise to a reputation for heroic goodness, resulting in his being elevated to Sainthood, posthumously declared king, and seen as the patron saint of the Czech lands. Yes, he is the Good King Wenceslaus from the famous Christmas carol.

His equestrian statue is the major symbol of the Wenceslaus Square in front of the National Museum. The Czechs refer to this place as the “Horse Meeting Point”. Since 2000, the feast day of Saint Wenceslas on 28 September is a public holiday, celebrated as Czech Statehood Day.

Everybody who travels to the Czech Republic for the first time is a bit confused. If you split with the Slovaks on 1 January, then why celebrate Czechoslovakia Independence Day on the 28th October?

Because tradition says so. The Czechs (and the Slovaks, Poles, Croatians…) lived all together in the Habsburg Monarchy led by the Austrians and Hungarians for more than 400 years. These two nationalities were privileged, an example of which was how only Hungarians or Austrians could be officers in the Army. Everybody else had to be in lower positions. The Czechs who were loyal at first to the Emperor, now deserted to Russia or France during WWI.

To cut a long story short: Germany and Austria-Hungary lost WWI and nationalities emerged into new states. The first Czechoslovak state was made of the Czech lands (with a large German population), Slovakia (regerred to by Hungarians as Upper Hungary) and the Carpathian Ruthenia (today Western Ukraine). In this state there were more even Germans than Slovaks! Nevertheless it was a striving country with a democratic goverment (unlike many in Europe by that time).

The Czechs (and some Slovaks) always refer to this as “the First Republic” and many agree it was probably the best republic ever. In contrast, the Slovaks celebrate on1 September, the day when in 1992 the Slovak leaders approved the new Slovak constitution.

to be continued…

(Next Article, Remember, remember, the 17th November!!!)

Josef Novotný

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