Double-flagged tram for Czechoslovak Independence Day © Ricky Yates
Friday 28th October 2016 – was a public holiday here in the Czech Republic, celebrating the ninety-eighth anniversary of the declaration of independence of a country that no longer exists 🙂 In the dying days of World War One, the new nation of Czechoslovakia was declared independent of the Austro-Hungarian Empire on 28th October 1918, by Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk, who then served as President of the ‘First Republic’, until 1935.
Although the state of Czechoslovakia ceased to exist on 1st January 1993, following the ‘Velvet Divorce’, the public holiday remains! Interestingly, it is no longer kept as a public holiday in Slovakia. Instead, they have double celebrations on 1st January each year, both to mark the New Year and to celebrate the establishment of the separate Slovak state, on . . . → Read More: A long weekend of anniversaries and celebrations
Havel navždy – Havel forever. © Ricky Yates
I had originally planned to write a blog post on this topic back in November 2014, immediately following the ‘Struggle for Freedom and Democracy Day’ public holiday on Monday 17th November, which officially marked the twenty-fifth anniversary of the beginning of the Velvet Revolution on 17th November 1989. But rather than write an immediate reaction, I eventually decided that it was better to wait somewhat longer and give myself a little more time for both research and for reflection.
For although the events of 17th November 1989 were what initially triggered the Velvet Revolution, it took several weeks before on 29th December 1989, the previously Communist Party controlled rubber stamp Czechoslovak parliament, voted dissident playwright Václav Havel, to be the new President of Czechoslovakia with the promise of holding truly democratic parliamentary elections in . . . → Read More: Twenty-five years on from the Velvet Revolution
Our Christmas Party invitation
On the evening of Wednesday 10th December, Sybille and I attended the British Ambassador’s Christmas Party held at the Embassy in Mala Strana, one the nice little perks of being the Anglican Chaplain in Prague. Just as we were leaving the main reception room to go downstairs to collect our coats and head home, Sybille stopped to say ‘Hello’ and stroke Maya, one of the Ambassador’s two adopted Czech cats. Maya was occupying a vintage chair by the door, which had a rope stretched across between the two arms, to prevent humans sitting in it. But clearly such regulations do not apply to cats!
Standing nearby were two couples, with one of the couples speaking to each other in German. The German-speaking lady turned to watch Sybille speaking with the cat so I asked her whether she was German, (rather than . . . → Read More: An interesting encounter and conversation at the end of a Christmas party
The rocks and forests of the Czech countryside © Ricky Yates
Yesterday, I officiated at the burial of ashes of two people, a husband and wife, into the family grave. Whilst this is something I would quite regularly do when Rector of a group of North Oxfordshire villages, this was the first time of doing so in just over six years of ministry here in the Czech Republic. I have also only conducted four funerals during that time, a reflection of the predominantly young age of the English-speaking expatriate population resident here.
However, although I conducted yesterday’s graveside service in English, it was very much a Czech occasion and was an illustration of several aspects of Czech life and culture. And because I want to protect the privacy of the family, I hope readers will forgive me for not referring to people or exact . . . → Read More: Another insight into Czech life and culture
The ‘Winged Lion’ monument © Ricky Yates
As I mentioned at the beginning of my previous post, I had a most interesting week in advance of my laptop computer lock-out problems. The highlight was attending two interrelated events on the afternoon and early evening of Tuesday 17th June.
The first event was the official unveiling of this monument, entitled ‘The Winged Lion’, by Sir Nicholas Soames MP, grandson of Sir Winston Churchill. It commemorates the nearly two and a half thousand Czechs and Slovaks who escaped from Czechoslovakia after the country was occupied by the Nazis in 1939, and served in the Royal Air Force during the Second World War.
As this BBC news article explains, the idea for the memorial came . . . → Read More: Celebrating brave Czechoslovak Airmen and the Official Birthday of Her Majesty the Queen