Czech in Czech Republic
Calendar and Holiday Traditions
In the Czech Republic, shops and banks close at noon on Saturdays. Sunday is considered a holiday and just about everything is closed. However, in big cities, malls are open all day Saturday with limited Sunday hours as well.
Festival holidays include: May 1, Labor Day; 8 May; 5-6 July, National holiday honoring (on the 5th) the two scholars who founded the written Czech language and (on the 6th) John Hus, founder of the Hussite movement; 28 October; 17 November, the anniversary of the Velvet Revolution of 1989; 23rd-26th of December, Christmas.
May is the month of love; therefore, May 1st is celebrated as the Czech Valentine's Day. It is tradition on this day that a man kiss his woman under a birch tree (blossoming during this period) or else she will wither and dry up!
The Monday after Easter is a kind of fertility ritual in which young men and children of both genders run from house to house with fronds made from woven young willows. They use the fronds to touch the women of the house, who, in turn, give them ribbons to adorn their fronds. Cookies and Easter eggs are also distributed to the frond-bearing party, who are carrying baskets to receive the goodies. They sing songs of good wishes before chasing the women of the house with their fronds. Women may be dunked into cold water or sprinkled with water. It is also traditional for households to bake cakes in the shape of a lamb and to decorate the cake with branches and flowers.
The Christmas holiday includes the 6th of December when Saint Nicholas makes his rounds accompanied by an angel and a devil. While the angel and devil dance, Saint Nicholas makes inquiries about the goodness of the children during the past year. In the end, the children come forward and recite poetry or sing songs, and are then presented with a gift of sweets and fruits.