Following our post last week on festivals and events happening in the Czech Republic in 2011, we wanted to inform you about our public holidays. On these national holidays most businesses and local neighborhood shops will be closed and public transport follows a Sunday schedule. Unlike in the US, UK and most Western European countries, if a public holiday falls on a Saturday or Sunday, the commemoration day isn’t moved. So unfortunately for workers and students, in 2011, only seven out of the 12 public holidays fall on a weekday.
Saturday, January 1: New Year’s Day/Czech Independence Day (Nový rok/Den obnovy samostatného českého státu)
Not only the first day of the year, but also a celebration of the birth of the Czech Republic which officially split from Slovakia on January 1st, 1993. In Prague, the city normally puts on a fireworks show over the Vltava River around 6pm.
Sunday, May 1: Labor Day (Svátek práce)
Also known as May Day, this day is celebrated for different reasons throughout the world. In Prague, it’s tradition for couples to climb Petřín hill and kiss under a blooming cherry tree to ensure their love endures.
Sunday, May 8: Liberation Day (Den osvobození)
The date marking Czech liberation from Germany at the end of World War II.
Tuesday, July 5: St. Cyril and St. Methodius Day (Den slovanských věrozvěstů Cyrila a Metoděje)
A holiday to commemorate the religious teachers St. Cyril and St. Methodius, who translated Christian literature into the Slavic language in the 9th century.
Wednesday, July 6: Jan Hus Day (Den upálení mistra Jana Husa)
Along with July 5, these two holidays often signal the unofficial kick-off to summer holidays and a mass exodus of people from Prague. This day remembers religious reformer Jan Hus, who was burned at the stake on July 6, 1415. The large, vaguely violent statue on Old Town Square is a memorial to Jan Hus.
Wednesday, September 28: St. Wenceslas Day/Czech Statehood Day(Den české státnosti)
Along with the commemoration of Czech statehood; the patron saint of the Czech Republic, St. Wenceslas is honored today on the anniversary of his death.
Friday, October 28: Independent Czechoslovak State Day (Den vzniku samostatného československého státu)
Date of the founding of Czechoslovakia, which declared independence from the Hapsburg Empire at the end of World War I. Strangely still celebrated even though the country no longer exists. (This isn’t a holiday in Slovakia.)
Thursday, November 17: Struggle for Freedom and Democracy Day (Den boje za svobodu a demokracii)
Student demonstrations on November 17, 1989 marked the beginning of the Velvet Revolution which in turn led to the collapse of Communism in Czechoslovakia.
Saturday, December 24: Christmas Eve (Štědrý den)
In the Czech Republic, Christmas is celebrated on December 24. In the evening gifts are exchanged and a traditional dinner of fish soup, fried carp and potato salad is enjoyed.
Sunday, December 25: Christmas Day (1. svátek vánoční)
More Christmas gatherings with extended family and friends.
Monday, December 26: Second Day of Christmas (2. svátek vánoční)
Celebrated as Boxing Day or perhaps St. Stephen’s Day in other countries, the Czech Republic simply calls it the “Second Day of Christmas.”