Czechs and foreign nationals were able to visit traditional midnight masses on Christmas Eve at dozens of Catholic churches in the Czech capital. Some of the services were held in Italian, French and Vietnamese. Prague Archbishop Dominik Duka, primate of the Czech Catholic Church, celebrated midnight mass at St Vitus Cathedral at Prague Castle and Bishop Václav Malý, a former dissident, led the mass at St Wenceslas Church in the Smíchov district. In some churches, ‘midnight’ masses were in fact not held at 12 am but several hours earlier.
A total of 22 children were abandoned in ‘baby boxes’ in 2011 –
special monitored facilities that were first introduced in the country in
2005. The system serves to save newborns unwanted by their mothers.
Overall, since its implementation, 62 babies were left. A total of 47 of
the ‘boxes’ are in operation at medical facilities around the country.
Mothers leaving their newborn can do so anonymously, safely placing the baby in the heated and monitored compartment, which immediately alerts personnel. An overwhelming majority of Czechs (96 percent according to STEM) consider the system a valuable one that helps save children from ending up far worse. But earlier this year, baby boxes were criticized by the U.N. which charged that they violated the Convention of the Rights of the Child, and recommended they be abolished.
Firefighters responded numerous fires around the country on Saturday two
of which ended tragically. In one of the incidents, a 45-year-old man died
of asphyxiation, while in another, residents in an apartment building in
the east of the country, where a range hood caught fire, were luckier.
were able to put out the fire themselves even before rescue crews arrived.
But in a third incident a woman also died after of asphyxiation.
In all, firefighters were called to 53 incidents on Christmas Eve.
A majority of homes in the town of Uherské Hradiště were left without water for much of Saturday leading up to Christmas Eve, after a water main reportedly broke beneath the town’s main road shortly after 12 pm. Repair teams worked until evening to restore water to at least parts of the town. Portable tanks with drinkable water were set-up in areas where service could not be restored.
A sponsor has donated an inflatable building to Prague City Hall capable of providing shelter for up to 120 people who are on the street with nowhere to go, Deputy Prague Mayor Ivan Kabický has said. The deputy mayor made clear the building could soon go up as freezing temperatures hit the country. But ‘where’ remains uncertain: the city has not yet designated a suitable space. Mr Kabický revealed that two sites near the city centre - owned by City Hall - were under consideration but he did not discuss additional details. There are an estimated 4,000 homeless people in the Czech capital, many of whom can not be properly provided for, the Salvation Army suggests, saying there was roughly one bed for every five people.
Snowdrifts blocked a five-kilometre section of road in the Krušné Mountains in the Ústí area on Saturday between the villages of Kryštofovy Hamry and Výsluní; an additional seven kilometer stretch was also blocked between Loučna and Chomutov but local snow removal was able to clear the drifts by the afternoon. The Krušné Mountains have gotten about ten centimeters of new snow; strong winds have snapped trees in places.
The Czech news website idnes has reported that two former fellow students
in Brno scored a minor hit this Christmas season with a board game set in
the Czech Republic’s second-largest city. According to the site, the two
set out a year ago to design a game loosely inspired by the well-known
title Scotland Yard (from 1983, in which players take the roles of
investigators trying to the capture a hidden fugitive). According to
the Czech board game (called Šalingrad) was released in a limited run of
300 copies and has almost sold out on the internet as well as at two local
By comparison, a number of professional board game designers in the Czech Republic have made their names internationally in recent years in hobby gaming, most notably Vladimír Chvátil (Prophesy, Mage Knight) and Vladimír Suchý (Last Will).
Christmas celebrations in the Czech Republic are muted in the wake of Vaclav Havel’s death. Many firms and institutions scrapped their Christmas parties and outdoor Christmas markets toned-down their events in a show of respect for the late president. Millions of Czechs will be sitting down to their traditional dinner of fried carp and potato salad on Saturday evening and for many people the events of the past few days will highlight the spiritual aspects of the holiday.
Close to four thousand people attended a memorial concert for the late
ex-president Vaclav Havel at Prague’s Lucerna Palace on Friday evening.
The concert, organized by his brother Ivan, featured the rock group The
Plastic People of the Universe, which was closely associated with Václav
Havel, US singer Suzanne Vega, Garage, Hudba Praha and the Velvet
The crowd enthusiastically joined in most of the songs, singing the well-known hits of the Plastics and joining Suzanne Vegas in a rendition of Tom’s Diner which she played for Vaclav Havel when they first met in the US years ago.
Performances were interspersed with clips from documentary films about the former president and tributes from friends and celebrities. The memorial concert was shown on a big screen on Wenceslas Square and carried live on Czech TV.
Nearly 30,000 people have signed a petition to rename Prague’s
international airport after the late president Vaclav Havel. The
initiative, started by film producer Fero Fenič on Monday, has already
received the support of numerous Czech celebrities, among them Jiří
Bartoška, Marek Eben and Zdeněk Svěrák, and singers Marta Kubišová
and Hany Hegerová. The petition was also signed by Mr. Havel’s brother
Ivan. Prague Mayor Bohuslav Svoboda said this week that the City Council
would certainly support the proposal, but he noted that the Ruzyně
was not city but state property.
The northern Polish city of Gdansk this week announced that it was naming one of its streets after the late Czech president Vaclav Havel. City mayor Pawel Adamowicz said Mr. Havel was the “Czech Lech Walesa” and was greatly loved and honoured in Poland.