Czech Public Holidays 2006

Find out when - and why - you get time off this year, with this guide to the country's red-letter days

JANUARY
Sunday 1st
New Year's Day/Czech Republic Independence Day
(Nový rok/Den obnovy samostatného českého státu)
As well as marking the start of the new year, this holiday now also marks the anniversary of the 1993 Czech-Slovak "Velvet Divorce."

APRIL
Sunday 16th & Monday 17th
Easter Sunday & Easter Monday
(Velikonoční pondělí & Velikonoční neděle)
Easter Sunday and Easter Monday, as calculated by the Western Church, are Czech public holidays - though only the Monday, of course, gets you an extra day off work. For more on local traditions, see our Easter in Prague article.

MAY
Monday 1st
Labor Day
(Svátek práce)
Closely linked with the Soviet era, the Labor Day tradition actually dates back to 19th-century Chicago, where a general strike ended in the infamous 1886 Haymarket Riot. Post-1989, May 1st has become a day for rallies and demonstrations and, less traditionally, Prague TV's own Chicken Day celebration.

Monday 8th
Victory in Europe Day
(Den vítězství)
In Communist-era Czechoslovakia, this public holiday marking the end of World War II was originally celebrated on May 9th, as it was in the Soviet Union. In 1991, VE Day was brought forward to May 8th, the day observed by the Western allies.

JULY
Wednesday 5th
Saints Cyril & Methodius Day
(Den slovanských věrozvěstů Cyrila a Metoděje)
July 5th honors ninth-century missionaries Cyril and Methodius. Cyril created the first written Slavic alphabet, which his brother Methodius used to make the first Slavic translation of the Bible.

Thursday 6th
Jan Hus Day
(Den upálení mistra Jana Husa)
A religious reformer, Hus challenged the Catholic church, preaching in Czech rather than Latin, and campaigning against corruption. He was burned at the stake in 1415 - an event this holiday commemorates. Since his death, Hus has become a national hero, and his statue now stands in Old Town Square.

SEPTEMBER
Thursday 28th
Czech Statehood Day (St. Wenceslas's Day)
(Den české státnosti (Svátek svatého Václava))
Because of a political compromise, this public holiday celebrating the Czechs' patron saint doesn't actually bear his name. (Left-wing parties were uncomfortable with Nazi exploitation of St. Wenceslas's Day under German occupation.) A 10th-century Bohemian prince, Wenceslas (Václav in Czech) was murdered because of his Christian beliefs. Prague's main square bears both his name and an iconic horseback statue of the saint. He's also immortalized in the (historically inaccurate) Christmas carol Good King Wenceslas.

OCTOBER
Friday 28th
Czechoslovak Independence Day
(Den vzniku samostatného československého státu)
October 28th marks the creation of Czechoslovakia, in 1918, even though the country no longer exists. Prior to World War I, the Czech and Slovak lands had, for several centuries, been part of the Austria-Hungarian Empire. Czechoslovakia split into two parts - the Czech Republic and the Slovak Republic - following 1993's "Velvet Divorce."

NOVEMBER
Friday 17th
Day of the Students' Battle for Freedom and Democracy
(Den boje za svobodu a demokracii)
November 17th is effectively the Czech Republic's "Velvet Revolution" holiday, marking the Communist regime's brutal suppression of a 1989 student demonstration. As a result of the police's actions, the dissident movement gained almost-immediate mass support, and the regime would last only a few more weeks. For more on 1989, see our Revolutionary Walkabout article.

DECEMBER
Sunday 24th, Monday 25th & Tuesday 26th
Christmas
(Vánoce)
Christmas is a three-day public holiday in the Czech Republic, beginning on December 24th with Štědrý den ("Generous Day"), when families traditionally sit down to Christmas dinner and exchange gifts. The following two days, known as 1. svátek vánoční and 2. svátek vánoční ("First Christmas Day" and "Second Christmas Day"), are quieter affairs. For more on this, see our Czech Christmas Traditions article.

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