Two things about Czech Republic I learned last week

I’ve always suspected Czechs of practicing too much sport but now there’s no doubt in that! Last week one of my students explained to me the essence of that strange Czech spring holiday which, probably since long before Global warming changed our ideas of seasons, has been during the winter.

Yes, you read it correctly, the spring holiday in Czech Republic is during the winter – in February or in March at the latest. The curious thing is that, unlike in Bulgaria, here the holiday – which is one week long – doesn’t happen at the same time for all students. Each region (I learned there were 14 regions in Czech Republic in my Czech lesson today – am I not good and endowed with remarkable memory? :)) has its holiday during one of the weeks in the period mentioned above. Perhaps you’re wondering why? To tell you the truth, I wasn’t; I just thought that was some small and unworthy of more than a second of attention detail but it turned out to be something quite amazing. Well, to me at least.

It turned out Czechs have their spring holiday in February (or in March at the latest) not for some other reason but precisely because they have to go skiing. My student presented me the things in such a way as if the Ministry of Education was forced to make the spring holiday in February because the students would go skiing anyway.

I imagine the beginning of this tradition in quite a romantic way: during the distant winter of, let’s say, that revolutionary year of 1968 two bold Czechoslovakian 10-graders – for example, Honza and Jíří – decide to run away from school for a week, get their ski and climb the foreboding mountain of Sněžka 1603,30 metres high so that they can go down her slope crying, “Down with school! Long live freedom!” After that, the school principal finds out but because Honza and Jíří study at a prestigious school (indeed, Honza’s father, being a highly respectful electrician at Škoda during the Socialism, has always insisted that his son get top quality education so that he could go to Germany one day and built Mercedes-es rather than Škodas; and Jíří, on his part, is the heir of an Austro-Hungarian royalty and nobody has even considered the idea of a different school for him) he decides to cover the whole story for the authorities and, from his position of a well-respected principal of a well-respected school, manages to convince the Party that Honza and Jíří were, in fact, the first students to have tested the project for a new spring holiday – earlier in the year and with a bigger stress on physical health and, therefore, on the healthy socialist spirit of the youth as well. The Party agrees and to this very day in Czech, which has got rid of its suffix -oslovakia, the spring holiday takes place during the winter but no one knows or remembers that its origin is actually a well covered rebellion against Socialism.

Most probably, however, the reason is a lot more trivial.

Anyway, I only need to explain now why the holiday doesn’t happen at the same time for everyone. Here, luckily for you, I’m not going to do it through pseudo-history with fiction elements but I’ll just repeat what my student said and that is: because if everyone started at the ski resorts at the same time, what would happen then?

Amazing!

Opravdu* amazing! (* opravdu – “really” in Czech)

The interesting thing is I don’t even know if I’m amazed in a positive or a negative way! I have the feeling the whole country is ruled by some sort of unwritten collectivism (in this case it’s even written!) that unites all Czechs over things like ski and beer. That shouldn’t be bad! It’s just the 100% Bulgarian in me shudders at the thought of potential unanimity among her people… After all, though, why should I be negative about it? People do sports, they enjoy the winter weather and spend their holiday outdoors and what do Bulgarian kids do during their real spring holiday in April or May? They eat all the cherries on the trees and then the old women have nothing to make compote with.

The second thing I learned about Czech Republic last week is a discovery I made on my own and it is that the most popular dog here is Yorkshire terrier.

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