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Happy St. Wenceslas Day!



Happy St. Wenceslas Day!
Originally uploaded by youplayawhat.
Yesterday we celebrated the "Day of Czech Statehood" (Den české státnosti). Which is to say that most people went on vacation and I walked around looking for signs of a holiday. There weren't many. On the whole, Czechs don't really go all out for national holidays like this. When I walked by the Mahen Theater in the center of Brno, there was only one small banner up. Of course, just because they don't go around flag waving doesn't mean that people don't recognize the holiday. I suspect that about 50% of the city left town for the long weekend. Traffic on Wednesday afternoon before the holiday was horrendous. On Thursday, the official holiday, few people were on the streets, the trams were almost empty, and it seemed more like a Sunday. This "feels like Sunday" atmosphere also came from the church bells—the holiday coincides with St. Wenceslas's name day, and so the day is also something of a religious holiday.* The only crowd I saw yesterday was outside a church. (St. Wenceslas Day has only been recognized as an official state holiday since 2000.)

I suspect that most people who had the option went to their chalupa (country cottage) and were grilling sausages, drinking beer, enjoying the fruits of their summer gardens, and basking in the beautiful weather we've had the past few days. The Czechs certainly know how to relax. (And I hope they won't get too much into flag waving in the foreseeable future.)


*St. Wenceslas, known in Czech as svatý Václav, is one of the patron saints of the country. He was killed by his brother Boleslav in the tenth century CE, supposedly on 28 September 929 (or 935). Legend has it that he will return one day to defend the Czech lands when they are faced with their gravest threat. So far there have been a lot of grave threats—the Habsburgs and Austro-Hungarian domination, WWII, Communism, etc.—but unfortunately (or is it fortunately) since St. W. has not yet returned, we can assume that the gravest threat is yet to come.

See also: Dog Eat Blog discusses Wenceslas;
prague-pictures.cz featured the statue on Wenceslas square;
Solnitchka pictures David Černý's inversion of the Wenceslas statue in the Lucerna building;
ABC Prague posts a list of Wenceslas-related events in Prague.

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