Hi, I am Michelle, I am Czech and I live with my family in Pardubice, Czech Republic, or Czechia for short.
Czech people love food, beer and good wine. There are many different traditional Czech foods like guláš or pork with sauerkraut and dumplings. An interesting food fact is Czechs often have a sweet main course, like fruit dumplings. They also love soups and most families will cook a hot meal for lunch with soup and a main course. Dessert isn’t normal but we love sweet cakes and biscuits. Pardubice, where we live, is famous for gingerbread. And as for beer? Well, put it this way, Pilsner and Budweiser were first brewed in and named after the Czech cities of Plzeň and České Budějovice.
Czechs love the outdoors. It is very common to see people cycling and rollerblading. In winter, skiing, ice-skating and playing ice hockey. Weekend trips and travelling are a big thing, many having a ‘weekend cottage’ or chalet somewhere in the countryside or mountains.
The Czech language is quite difficult to learn, even for Czechs. We even have our own unique letter and pronunciation. Ř is pronounced as if rolling the letter ‘r’ and the ‘s’ of leisure, all into one! If you don’t speak Czech and go to a government office to sort out paperwork you need a translator, even offices specifically dealing with foreigners! There is a lot of bureaucracy in the Czech Republic and simple things like insurance cannot be done over the phone or internet, everything is still very office based.
When entering someone’s house, you will need to take off your shoes. Czechs are very hospitable and on entering the house a banquet will appear as if from nowhere! Children are adored here so when visiting families with kids it is polite to take small gifts such as chocolates, crisps and small toys. Some people even put stickers on the back of their cars with cartoon pictures of their kids and their names – if people put stickers on the back of their cars of the things they love most, then this probably sums up the Czech attitude to their children.
The biggest traditions here are at Easter and Christmas. On Easter Monday, girls get smacked by boys with long ‘Pomláska/Tatar’ sticks and in return the boys get given nicely painted hard boiled eggs and chocolates or sweets. Men get offered ‘Slivovice’ (plum brandy) or some other alcohol. Before Christmas is St. Nicolas’ day (Mikuláš) when children recite a song or poem to Mikuláš. Naughty children get put in a potato sack by the devil (who accompanies Mikuláš, along with an angel) and taken to hell! Christmas is celebrated on the evening of 24th December. We eat cold potato salad and fried carp in breadcrumbs. It is common to have the carp swimming in your bath tub in the days leading up to Christmas Eve. A scale from the fish is put under each dinner plate in the evening, bringing luck and money for the following year. The presents are bought that evening by the baby Jesus, a tradition handed down by Martin Luther.
Interesting facts, the word ‘robot’ comes from the Czech Republic, as does the invention of Semtex and the soft contact lens. The well-known English language carol ‘Good King Wensaslas’ is about the Czech duke Vaclav I, Duke of Bohemia.
Welcome to Czechia!