This year, there’s good news and bad news.
The good: the Czech government has voted to adopt Good Friday as an official state holiday, which will officially commence from 2016. Not only does this add an extra holiday to the calendar, it means we now get a 4-day weekend (along with Easter Monday) every year.
The bad: five out of the remaining 12* holidays in 2016 fall on a weekend. In other words, despite the addition of an extra holiday to the calendar this year, you’ll officially get two fewer days off work compared to 2015.
(*I’m including January 1, 2017 as a 2016 holiday, despite obvious reasons, as it falls within the scope of the 2016 Christmas holiday period.)
Things are looking a lot better in 2017, when 11 of the 13 holidays fall on a weekday.
Below copy is (mostly) from our 2015 holiday calendar, a list of the national holidays observed in the Czech Republic. Most offices, businesses and local shops close and public transport timetables follow the Sunday schedule.
Friday, March 25: Good Friday (Velikonoční pátek)
It’s official: Good Friday is now a public holiday in the Czech Republic, as the country joins neighboring Germany, Austria, and Slovakia in commemorating the crucifixion and death of Jesus Christ. More info here.
Monday, March 28: Easter Monday (Velikonoční pondělí)
Czech tradition: women are beaten (not viciously) with whips made from willow sticks on Easter Monday. Men receive painted eggs or shots of plum brandy (slivovice) in return for whipping of women. Alternatively, or additionally, women can be thrown into cold water (preferably a stream, though a bathtub will suffice).
Sunday, 1 May: Labor Day (Svátek práce)
International Workers’ Day in many countries (though not the US or UK). Also known as May Day, this day is celebrated for different reasons throughout the world. Head up to Petřín hill and rejuvenate your love life with a kiss under one of the numerous blossom-laden trees on its slopes, a tradition left over from a pagan fertility rite.
Sunday, 8 May: Liberation Day (Den osvobození)
Date marking Czech liberation from Germany at the end of the Second World War. Germany signed the terms of surrender on May 8, 1945, and the German army in Prague surrendered on the morning of May 9.
Tuesday, 5 July: St. Cyril and St. Methodius Day (Den slovanských věrozvěstů Cyrila a Metoděje)
Date commemorating the religious teachers St. Cyril and St. Methodius, who translated Christian literature into the Slavic language in the ninth century.
Wednesday, 6 July: Jan Hus Day (Den upálení mistra Jana Husa)
Date commemorating religious reformer Jan Hus, who was burned at the stake on July 6, 1415. July 5-6 usually combine to create a long weekend of relaxation, preferably spent at a summer cottage.
Wednesday, 28 September: St. Wenceslas Day/Czech Statehood Day (Den české státnosti)
Commemorating St. Wenceslas, the patron saint of the Czech people and the Czech Republic, who was killed in September of 929 or 935 (there are some discrepancies regarding the year of his death). Czech statehood is also celebrated on this date.
Friday, 28 October: Independent Czechoslovak State Day (Den vzniku samostatného československého státu)
Date of the foundation of Czechoslovakia, which declared independence from the Hapsburg Empire at the end of World War I.
Thursday, 17 November: Struggle for Freedom and Democracy Day (Den boje za svobodu a demokracii)
Date commemorating the beginning of the Velvet Revolution in 1989. Student demonstrations on 17 November (International Students’ Day) marked the beginning of the end for the communist regime in Czechoslovakia.
Saturday, 24 December: Christmas Eve (Štědrý den)
The main Christmas celebration in the Czech Republic – the time when presents are exchanged and a traditional Christmas dinner (carp soup, fried carp, carp surprise, etc.) is served.
Sunday, 25 December: Christmas Day (1. svátek vánoční)
More Christmas gatherings with extended family, but the main celebration in the Czech Republic takes place on Christmas Eve.
Monday, 26 December: Second Day of Christmas (2. svátek vánoční)
Celebrated as Boxing Day in the UK and Canada, the Czech Republic officially recognizes the date as the “Second Day of Christmas”, or St. Stephen’s Day, as it is celebrated in many other countries. St. Stephen was the first Christian martyr, but the date is generally celebrated as the extension of Christmas that its Czech name implies.
Sunday, January 1, 2017: New Year’s Day/Czech Independence Day (Nový rok/Den obnovy samostatného českého státu)
Not just the first day of the year, but also a celebration of the restoration of the Czech Republic, which officially split with Slovakia on January 1st, 1993. Czech saying: Jak na Nový rok, tak po celý rok, which means: ‘as on New Year’s Day, so will be the new year’. Also: don’t eat chicken for New Year’s dinner, lest your luck for the coming year fly away.
The following are culturally important days in the Czech Republic but are not public holidays:
January 27: Remembrance of Victims of the Holocaust (Den památky obětí holokaustu)
Date in honor of those who died during the Holocaust. On January 27, 1945, the concentration camp at Osvětim (Auschwitz) was liberated.
March 8: International Women’s Day (Mezinárodní den žen)
International holiday in honor of women, celebrated by many European nations and recognized by the United Nations.
March 12: Czech Republic Enters NATO (Vstup České republiky do NATO)
Remembering March 12, 1999, when the Czech Republic joined NATO.
May 5: May Czech Uprising (Květnové povstání českého lidu)
Date marking the Czech uprising against German occupation in early May, 1945. May 5 was the date the uprising spread to Prague.
June 27: Remembrance of the Victims of the Communist Regime (Den památky obětí komunistického režimu)
Date remembering those who died under communism. Political activist Milada Horáková was executed on June 27, 1950, by the communist regime.
November 11: Veterans’ Day (Den válečných veteránů)
International holiday remembering those who have served in the armed forces. The First World War officially ended on the eleventh hour, of the eleventh day, of the eleventh month in 1918.
Each day of the year comes with a Czech name (or names) to be celebrated. It is common practice to give flowers (or some other gift) on a person’s Name Day – you’ll notice many of the flower shops around town often list name days on a blackboard outside. For a full list of Name Days see here.