The Christmas tree that will adorn Prague’s Old Town Square during the festive season was felled by national champion lumberjack Jiří Vorlíček in Česká Lípa, north Bohemia on Sunday. The 23-metre spruce is set to reach the capital on Tuesday. It will be lit on Saturday, marking the launch of the city’s Christmas markets, and remain in place until January 6.
In Magazine: the state spends 230 million crowns inefficiently to make the civil service more efficient, a group of musicians from Benin end up in detention on suspicion of being illegal migrants, an English language teacher is sacked for letting her class watch 50 Shades of Grey and half of Czechs believe they are underpaid.
Stepped up Czech police checks for suspicious looking illegal immigrants had an unfortunate result in the east Moravian town of Uherské Hradiště. A group of 11 foreigners from the West African state of Benin were taken into police custody after they were found without papers. It later emerged that they were from a group taking part in the famous International Folk Festival at nearby Strážnice who had gone on an excursion and left their papers in the hotel. The festival organisers intervened to arrange their release.
The Czech Cabinet on Wednesday backed a proposal to make Good Friday a state holiday in the country. The move, if approved by both houses of parliament, would put the largely atheistic country in line with neighbouring Slovakia, Austria, and Germany. The original proposal to make Good Friday a holiday stemmed from the junior government party, the Christian Democrats. The Czech Republic currently has 13 state holidays although these sometimes fall at weekends and thus deprive employees of a well deserved day off. Backing for the new holiday has already been given by most major political parties with the exception of the communists. The holiday was ended during the early years of the former communist regime in the 1950s.
Twelve people died in car accidents over the Easter weekend, twice as many as in 2014. It is the highest number of casualties since 2011, when thirteen people were killed on the roads. According to the police, most of the accidents were caused by speeding or drink driving and most of the victims were young drivers around the age of twenty. Some 3,000 policemen were out in force over Easter since it traditionally involves a high number of casualties.
Traditional folk customs were observed by many on Easter Monday - a public holiday in the Czech Republic, when a braided willow whip decorated with ribbons known as the pomlázka is used to symbolically whip women and girls in return for painted eggs. Girls can also be doused with water but it is not commonly practiced. The custom has pre-Christian roots in pagan fertility rites. According to the rite, females 'whipped' on Easter Monday remain healthy and fertile for the entire year.
This year‘s Easter Monday programme is dedicated to Czech Easter cuisine which is quite different from what you will find on the typical Czech table during the rest of the year. Radio Prague talked to Lucie Kohoutová, a young Prague-based food blogger and sommelier, better known in the foodie circles as Coq au Vin.
Some 60 percent of Czechs would like to turn Good Friday into a state holiday, according to a poll conducted by the Median agency. Thirty-three percent of respondents are against the idea. According to sociologist Daniel Prokop, most people don’t regard the day as a religious symbol, but rather as an opportunity to have a day off. The idea is mostly supported by people who are employed; 70 percent of those would like to make Good Friday a state holiday. On the other hand, 50 percent of the self-employed are against the idea, claiming that they would fail to benefit.
The Christian Democrats are pushing to make Good Friday a state holiday in the Czech Republic, as it is in several European states. Previous attempts to give workers a day off on the religious holiday have failed. However, a senior party figure says the Christian Democrats are now hopeful of finding support for the revival of a tradition ended by the Communists.
Some of the country’s most popular castles and chateaux opened their doors to the public this weekend, marking the start of the tourist season. Among them are Karlšejn, Křivoklát and Konopište, which annually attract over half a million visitors. Prague Castle also opened its doors to visitors this weekend. The country’s other historical attractions are due to open the season on April 1st or the long Easter weekend with price cuts and special events for visitors.
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