Many Czechs are preparing for an unusually long Christmas break from work. The combination of state holidays on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday and a regular weekend means that a lot of people around the country will enjoy a five-day break, a situation that will not arise again until 2018. After that it will not recur until 2025. Czechs celebrate Christmas on the evening of December 24.
When the McDonald fast food chain arrived in the Czech Republic twenty-two years ago it was a huge hit. In the years that followed the company posted sales figures of two digits. But in recent years business has been slowing down and profits have been stagnating. The company’s Czech division has now announced major revitalization plans.
The light of Bethlehem, traditionally brought to the Czech Republic from Vienna by a group of scouts, is due to arrive in Brno just after 6.30 pm on Saturday. In the course of next week it will be taken to key destinations around the country and placed in churches and institutions from which people can take it to their homes. It will also burn at the Czech Radio building on Vinohradská street in Prague. The tradition of bringing the light of Bethlehem to the Czech Republic started in 1990 a year after the fall of communism.
The number of Czech inhabitants increased in the three-quarters of 2014 by 16,100 to 10.5 million, according to figures released by the Czech Statistics Office on Friday. The rise is attributed mainly to immigration, but also to an increasing number of births. Nearly 83,000 children were born in the country during the first nine months of this year while over 77,000 people died over the same period.
The annual DesignSupermarket gets underway in Prague on Thursday. Now in its eighth year, the event – which organizers call a selling exhibition – is an alternative to commercial shopping in crowded malls, offering a selection of hundreds of designer items. The event was originally established for young local designers who didn’t have an outlet for their products. I asked Darina Zavadilová, the head of DesignSupermarket, if this was still the case:
Entering Ryby & Chips on Myslíkova St. in downtown Prague is akin to being teleported to a fish and chip shop in the UK or Ireland, albeit one where the menu is in Czech. Over the years, others have had little success in finding a market for this kind of fast food in the Czech capital. However, Ryby & Chips co-owner Matthew Salmon believes an authentic approach will set his recently opened eatery apart. When we spoke at Ryby & Chips, I first asked Salmon about the genesis of the business.
Petra Pospěchová’s recently published Regionální Kuchařka, or Regional Cookbook, is full of interesting recipes from around the Czech Republic, from her native Valašsko in the east of the country to the former Sudetenland in the west and all points in between, with each section introducing readers to a dozen or so local specialities. When I met Pospěchová, one of the country’s best-known food writers, I asked her if it had perhaps taken somebody from outside Prague to put together such a book.
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