Thursday, February 4, 2021

Day of Czechs Abroad

The Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs has added a 16th significant day.  Den Čechů v zahraničí, the Day of Czechs Abroad, is mean to honour Czechs who emigrated.   

The ministry selected five historic dates and ran an online poll last year for people to pick the new significant day.  If only a significant day equaled a public holiday but people still have to work.

With 42% of the vote, 4 February was selected as the winner.  This is the day that the philosopher Jan Amos Komenský left Bohemia.  Komenský is considered the father of modern education.

In second place, with 21% of the vote, was 23 December.  On this day in 1989, the foreign ministers at the time for Czechoslovakia and Germany, Jiří Dienstbier and Hans-Dietrich Genscher cut the barbed wire at the Rozvadov-Waidhaus border crossing.

In third place, with 18% of the vote, was 7 March which was the birthday of T.G. Masaryk in 1850.  He was the first president of Czechoslovakia.  Apparently there used to be a Masaryk Day of Czechs and Slovaks Abroad that was first celebrated in 1934.  It lasted until 1938.  It returned in 1947 but 1948 was its last year.

In fourth place, with 15%, was 1 July.  In 1932, this was the first congress of Czechs and Slovaks abroad.

In fifth place, with only 4% of the vote, was 17 April (1826).  This date commemorates Vojtěch Náprstek who is considered the spiritual father of Czech journalism in the USA.

The whole point of the Day of Czechs Abroad is to highlight the role of Czechs living outside of the country and for them to forge stronger bonds with Czechland.

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