15 facts about the Czech Republic and the Czechs you should know
Integration into a new culture implies two things: mastering the language and understanding the culture itself. Like other nations, the Czechs have their own peculiarities you should be aware about and respect if you really want to blend in and become a part of your new local community. Here are the insights from Alexandra Baranova, the GoStudy blog writer.
- Czechs are down-to earth and thrifty, sometimes even a little stingy. And it has nothing to do with a person’s income level!
Even an employee of a big company, earning a salary well above average, would rather go to a discount superstore for their grocery shopping, than spend money in a fancy organic produce shop. ‘What’s the point? After all, pasta is pasta anywhere. Why should I pay more?’ would be the most likely respond you will receive.
Remarkably, none of this seems to apply to household appliances or sports gear!
- Šumava is a region in Czechia noted for beautiful landscapes and undisturbed forests.
This is where many Czechs have their country houses they go to for weekends and holidays. The Šumava region provides vast opportunities for hiking and cycling.
- ‘Oh, no, I’m rubbish at ice-skating,’ a Czech friend told me once. When we happened to be on an ice rink together, I saw him skating around gracefully, as if it was the most natural thing in the world!
This case is a vivid example of the Czech’s attitude to sports. Children learn to ski, cycle, climb and hike from a very young age. A 7 or 10-day class trip to a mountain ski area is what they do in the Czech schools.
- Beer. No matter which way you look at it, beer is a hallmark of the Czech culture and a source of national pride. Just you try and say that German beer is better, this you will get you into a heated discussion for the rest of the evening).
Beer in the Czech Republic is cheaper than water (the local ministry of health sometimes shows concern about this). However, it is true that Czech beer-producers, make really delicious blends. Virtually each small town in the country has its own brewery and a special beer recipe.
- While still in high school, Czech youngsters start taking on jobs.
A casual job is called brigáda in Czech. It is usually low paid, but allows to try different work places to understand how they work and gives a taste of earning your own money. This is how school kids can earn pocket money for themselves, while students can make enough to cover their dorm accommodation expenses.
- Czechs highly respect, honour and look up to Václav Havel, the first president of the Czech Republic and the last leader of Czechoslovakia.
His name is the symbol of freedom, new beginning and a better future; he was the politician who opened doors to democracy for the whole nation without firing a single shot, as is typical during a political system changeover. He was not afraid of criticism and spoke up on critical issues.
- ‘Oh, my, he is definitely from Prague!’ a Czech co-worker of mine once said.
There is a distinct rivalry between Prague and Brno in the Czech Republic. Brno is a large city in the Moravian region, it is becoming a cultural centre with a young and hip atmosphere and an an easy pace of life. At the same time, Moravians consider Prague natives to be arrogant residents, who just make money and have no time to enjoy life. The different dialects are not helpful either. The Moravian dialect is like a song, while Prague dialect ‘čeština’ is way harsher.
- Keep in mind that being unhurried and laid-back is typical for all Czechs.
This is why they are not very efficient when it comes to dealing with the paperwork. The Czechs are not the kind of people who close big deals right after the introduction over lunch. What’s the rush? The same applies to their pace of life; local people are not trying to do one hundred and fifty things in 24 hours. Instead of frantically going through their to-do lists, they’d rather chat over a glass of beer with their pals or just go for a walk.
- Czechs are undemanding; they enjoy simple things in life.
If there was a choice between a luxury resort holiday or a four-day camping trip, an average Czech would probably go for the camping trip. The same is true for the way the Czechs choose their clothes, cars, schools, houses. ‘If you have a roof over your head and enough money to buy food, then there is nothing else to wish for’. This is the Czechs typical attitude to life.
- Czechs don’t travel much; many of them have never left their home country or Europe, and consider it OK.
This is only true for the older generation. Young people travel a lot, especially right after the school graduation. One of the most popular places is the USA. After obtaining their school leaving certificate, a lot of young people choose to sign up for an au-pair program, which allows them to travel and improve their foreign language skills, while staying with a family and helping them with child minding and house chores. After a year or so abroad, the students return to the Czech Republic and choose what they want to study at the university.
- Despite their love for sports, Czechs seem to love their food more.
Keeping a healthy lifestyle is a definite trend here, there are vegans and vegetarians among the Czechs. However, most Czechs would struggle to part with their favourite roasted pork ribs, French fries or hamburgers. ‘Nothing tastes better than the traditional svíčková’, a Czech would tell you. And truth be told, local svíčková is really tasty.
- Christmas is a big deal in the Czech Republic, more so than the New Year.
Statistically, the Czech Republic has the highest number of atheists, so Christmas celebrations have little to do with religion. It’s a family celebration for Czechs, an opportunity to gather round the festive table, make cookies, give presents to the loved ones, and watch old films together.
- Gender equality prevails in the Czech Republic.
Women pursue their careers and work alongside men, while some men choose to have a parental leave in order to support their working partner. All household expenses for most couples / families are usually paid 50/50.
- Czechs like a good laugh and often make jokes about themselves.
Some jokes can sometimes be outright rude so be prepared. However, you most definitely will not be bored.
- Love for their own country.
Choosing between a Czech made and an imported product, Czechs will almost always pick their own. Czechs like supporting local manufacturers. So it may be a good idea for you to adopt this principle.