Culture of the Czech Republic

Czech cuisine

To say that the Czech Republic has a rich culture would be an understatement. The country is full of history and tradition, which is also reflected in its cuisine.

Czech cuisine is known for its concentration on meat dishes such as pork, beef and chicken. This can be attributed to the fact that many people in this country live in rural areas where it is difficult to grow plants for food. Instead, they are largely dependent on their livestock for protein and fat.

Main courses

Vepřo-knedlo-zelo (Roast pork)

The traditional dish vepřo-knedlo-zelo (pork, dumplings and sauerkraut) is an example of how this country’s history is reflected in its cuisine. This dish represents the root of Czech cuisine, and hence a dish was created that was cheap and simple to prepare, but also nutritious - and it is still popular today! 

Kapr (Carp)

In the Czech Republic, more meat than fish is generally eaten. But on Christmas Eve, it is traditional to eat “Kapr”, or carp. According to custom, the fish is bought alive from the market a few days beforehand and lives in the bath until the carp is prepared on Christmas Eve. The usual way of preparing the carp is kept very simple. Firstly, the fish is cut into pieces, then coated with breadcrumbs and fried in oil or fat. The whole thing is served with potato salad.

According to an ancient custom, the scales of the carp are a symbol of wealth and money and are supposed to ensure that money for the next year will not run out. This is why the Czechs put the scales under their plates or in their purses during the Christmas meal. 

Soups

Traditional Czech soups are part of the national cuisine and play an important role in Czech culture. Although these soups have been around for centuries, they are still amongst the most popular dishes in the country.

Bramboračka (Potato soup)

The best-known Czech soup is bramboračka (potato soup), which is made using potatoes, vegetables, mushrooms and milk. The creamy soup is predominantly eaten as a starter and is best enjoyed on cold days.

Česnečka (Garlic soup)

The Czech garlic soup “Česnečka” is a traditional soup in the Czech Republic which is served at Christmas and Easter. It is made with potatoes, onions, carrots, bacon or pork knuckles, garlic and sour cream. Czech garlic soup isn’t just a delicious meal, but is also known for its health benefits. Garlic has long been used as an antibiotic by traditional healers all over the world and contains nutrients such as calcium and magnesium which are beneficial to the body.

Drinks

The Czech Republic isn’t just famous for its delicious dishes, but also for beer (pivo) and spirits.

Pivo (Beer)

The Czech Republic is a country with a long history of beer brewing which can be traced back to the 12th century. Beer is one of the country’s most popular drinks as it has been around for centuries and is part of Czech culture. The most popular brands include Pilsner Urquell, Budweiser Budvar and Gambrinus.

Becherovka (Schnapps)

Becherovka is the well-known herbal liqueur from Carlsbad and is also referred to as the city’s “13th spring”. The bitter schnapps was originally invented as a remedy for stomach ache but subsequently became a popular alcoholic drink. The most well-known cocktail containing Becherovka is the so-called BeTon, made by mixing Becherovka and Tonic Water

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Traditional Festivals

Walpurgis Night (Witches’ Night)

Walpurgis Night is a Czech holiday which is celebrated on the evening before the 1st May. It is a festival of spring and fertility and is also known as Witches’ Night.

The festival commemorates the death of Saint Walpurga (also known as Saint Walburga), who died in the year 779 AD. She was a Christian missionary from England who worked in Germany, Denmark and Sweden. The festivities begin at midnight on 30th April when bonfires are lit throughout the Czech Republic and people throw witch figures into the flames to destroy them.

As you can perhaps imagine, Walpurgis Night is celebrated in Prague with music and dancing - and alcohol, of course! The festivities usually begin at around 8pm when people gather around the fire to sing songs and drink beer whilst they wait for midnight, when they can break into song again to welcome the spring. If you are in Prague at this time of year, you should definitely join in with this lively festival. 

The Karlovy Vary International Film Festival (Carlsbad)

The film festival in Karlovy Vary is the oldest and one of the most popular film festivals in Europe. It was founded in 1946 and since then it has taken place annually in the Czech Republic in Carlsbad. The film festival is held every year in June and lasts for 10 days. The Karlovy Vary International Film Festival is an event that showcases the best of international cinema and attracts thousands of people from all over the world every year. The festival provides the opportunity to see some of the most famous actors, directors, producers and other important representatives of the film industry.

The festival takes place at three different venues: Grand Cinema (1st venue), Panorama Barrandov (2nd venue) and Music Hall Lucerna (3rd venue). The first two venues are situated within walking distance from each other on one side of the main square in Karlovy Vary - Náměstí Svobody (Liberty Square). Every venue has its own atmosphere and its own ambience which makes it unique compared with other venues in the city at this time each year.

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The Czech Republic is a beautiful country which has a great deal to offer tourists. The food and drink is amongst the best in Europe, and the beer is known all over the world. These are only a few examples of the unbelievable experiences that the Czech Republic has to offer.

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