Good Friday: Czech Republic’s New 13th Holiday

Prepare your braided whips for a prolonged Easter weekend

January 1st was a night of celebrating the New Year and Restoration Day of the Independent Czech State, but once the fireworks died down and people opened up their 2016 calendars, they realized that 5 out of the 12 official bank holidays are on the weekend.

Every cloud has a silver lining: the lack of holidays finally pushed the arguing members of parliament to make an important decision. Good Friday (Velký pátek in Czech) became the 13th public holiday despite the resistance of the Czech Communist Party (KSČM - Komunistická strana Čech a Moravy).

It wasn’t just KSČM who pointed out that Good Friday is a strictly Christian holiday which makes little sense in one of the least religious countries in the world. According to Independent news, the Czech Republic is the 4th least religious country with Sweden, Japan and China leading the way. While only 30% of Czechs identify themselves as atheist, another 45% say that they are not religious.

Despite the religious debates, most people are happy to get the day off and the parliament is making sure that everyone will actually get it: laws are being discussed to prevent stores from being open on Good Friday. This comes at a steep cost according to that estimates a 11.4 billon CZK dip in the Czech economy. This number takes into consideration that nothing will be produced on this day.

On a brighter note, Czech Republic is one of the luckier countries in Europe. Hungary, the UK and the Netherlands only have about 8 public holidays while Finland has 15. On a global scale Czechs have trouble competing with India’s 21 public holidays (with more depending on the state). The Philippines and China have it pretty good too, with 18 and 17 holiday days respectively.

What makes Czech holidays so special though is that there are three separate independence holidays. This may seem ridiculous until you look into the history. Czechoslovakia was created in 1918 and had some ethical tensions due to the high number of German immigrants. It was first occupied by Germany in 1938 and wasn’t liberated until September 21st in 1944.

The Soviet troops who liberated them, however, took over just half a year later in April of 1945. While reforms were seen in 1968 after the Prague Spring, it wasn’t until the Velvet Revolution in November of 1989 that freed the Czechs. The sovereign state of Czechoslovakia then divided its borders peacefully and became the Czech Republic and Slovakia on January 1st 1993.

The complete list of bank holidays in 2016:

January 1st (Friday) – Restoration Day of the Independent Czech State
March 25th (Friday) – Good Friday
March 28th (Monday) – Easter Monday
May 1st (Sunday) – Labor Day
May 8th (Sunday) – Liberation Day
July 5th (Tuesday) – St. Cyril and Methodius Day
July 6th (Wednesday) – Jan Hus Day
September 28th (Wednesday) – St. Wenceslas Day, the day of Czech statehood
October 28th (Friday) – Foundation of the Independent Czechoslovak State
November 17th (Thursday) – Struggle for Freedom and Democracy Day
December 24th (Saturday) – Christmas Eve
December 25th (Sunday) – Christmas Day
December 26th (Monday) – St. Stephens Day

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