In the Czech Republic, September 28 is a national holiday both celebrating the foundation of the Czech Republic and commemorating one of its most prominent historical figures, Wenceslas IV.
The Czech Republic officially split from Slovakia in 1993, meaning the country has turned a sprightly 25 years old in 2018. Since 2000, September 28 has been officially celebrated as a national holiday in the Czech Republic.
It’s also among the Czech holidays during which retail stores larger than 200 square meters must remain closed. Be sure to do your grocery shopping in advance and enjoy a three-day weekend this year.
This year, September 28 will also kick off a month-long spate of celebrations to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the foundation of Czechoslovakia, which will features events in Prague and beyond leading up to the next national holiday, October 28’s Independent Czechoslovak State Day.
Those events will officially commence today with the unveiling of Prague’s newly-restored Astronomical Clock from 18:00. The famed Clock has been undergoing repairs for much of this year, and completely obscured for the past two months.
While the Czech Republic officially became a country on January 1, 1993, the date celebrating Czech Statehood was chosen because it corresponds to the legacy of one of Prague’s most beloved inhabitants.
September 28 is also celebrated as St. Wenceslas Day (or the Feast of St. Wenceslas), commemorating Wenceslas I, Duke of Bohemia (the ‘Good King Wenceslas’ in English song), who was murdered in September 935 by his brother, Boleslav.
Hailed as a righteous and heroic leader, Wenceslas was posthumously given the title of King (he was only ever a Duke during his lifetime) and elevated to sainthood, becoming the Patron Saint of Bohemia.
In the 1800s, the expansive marketplace in Prague’s New Town was renamed to Wenceslas Square, and a huge equestrian statue of St. Wenceslas was erected at its top. The Square remains one of the Czech Republic’s most significant landmarks, and a key location for the Velvet Revolution and other demonstrations.