There are many fascinating local customs in the Czech Republic! From the occasional Christmas party to everyday life, this Central European country has many customs and traditions. This is a blog you should read before you leave for your work placement in the Czech Republic, to familiarise yourself with your new host country. And if you’re interested, we’ve also got a blog on the cultural differences between the Czech Republic and France!

Young people in the Czech Republic

The Czech Republic has a rich and diverse culture, and young people aged between 15 and 25 are actively helping to preserve certain traditions while developing new trends. Here are a few cultural highlights:

  1. Parties and festivals: Young Czechs are often involved in parties and festivals that are an integral part of Czech culture. For example, the celebration of Valentine’s Day is becoming increasingly popular among teenagers, where the exchange of cards and gifts is commonplace. Similarly, music festivals such as the Colours of Ostrava or the Pohoda Festival in neighbouring Slovakia attract many young people with a passion for music and entertainment.
  2. Nightlife: Young Czechs are known for enjoying their lively nightlife. In big cities like Prague and Brno, bars, clubs and pubs attract young crowds who enjoy music, dancing and socialising. Beer is an important part of Czech culture, and young people like to get together to share a drink in a relaxed atmosphere.
  3. Sports and leisure: Sports play an important role in the lives of young Czechs. Ice hockey is particularly popular, and many young people are passionate about the sport. Outdoor activities, such as hiking in the Czech mountains or canoeing on the rivers, also attract many young people keen on adventure and nature.
  4. Traditional celebrations: Although young Czechs are open to new trends, they still take part in the country’s traditional celebrations. For example, St Nicholas Day on 5 December, when men dressed as St Nicholas, angels and devils visit houses to hand out sweets to good children, is a popular tradition.
  5. Community involvement: Young Czechs are often involved in community activities and voluntary projects. They get involved in social and environmental causes that are close to their hearts, demonstrating their sensitivity to social issues.
  6. Czech cuisine: Traditional Czech cuisine has a special place in the lives of young Czechs. They enjoy traditional dishes such as goulash, knedlíky (dumplings) and koláče (pastries). Young people also enjoy international dishes and street food, which further enriches their culinary experience. We also have a blog about culinary specialities in the Czech Republic!

These traditions and practices reflect the diversity and vitality of Czech culture among young people. They seek to strike a balance between preserving local customs and opening up to global influences, creating a unique and dynamic cultural identity.

Local customs in the Czech Republic at Christmas

At Christmas, the Czechs enthusiastically celebrate this time of year, surrounded by traditions and customs that reflect their unique cultural heritage. One of the most popular customs is the preparation of the Christmas tree. Families get together to decorate their tree with garlands, colourful baubles and traditional handmade ornaments. The Christmas tree is placed at the heart of the house, creating a warm and festive atmosphere.

Another important custom is Christmas Eve, called “Štědrý večer” in Czech. Christmas dinner is a special time when the family gathers to share a traditional meal. The main course is often fried carp, accompanied by salads, potatoes and other delicious dishes. After dinner, the family gathers around the Christmas tree to exchange gifts and sing carols.

The Czechs also value the tradition of the “chopée”. This is a cherry or hazel branch decorated with colourful ribbons, dried fruit and sweets. This chopée is placed inside the house, symbolising prosperity and good luck for the coming New Year.

Another amusing custom is predicting the future at midnight. Young Czechs are in the habit of dividing an apple into two parts and interpreting the shapes of the seeds by candlelight. The seeds are thought to predict what the future holds for the person in the coming year.

Czechs also take part in carol singing during Advent, particularly in churches and public squares. These traditional songs, known as “koledy”, create a festive atmosphere throughout the country.

Finally, the Czechs celebrate the Advent period with Christmas markets in many towns and villages. These markets are an opportunity to sample local specialities, buy handcrafted gifts and enjoy the Christmas spirit in a friendly and magical atmosphere.

Shoe throwing!

An unusual custom in the Czech Republic is that of ‘shoe throwing’. This unusual tradition is practised on the wedding day of a Czech couple. After the wedding ceremony, the guests gather in front of the entrance to the newlyweds’ home. At this point, the groom has to take off one of his shoes and throw it over the roof of the house.

Tradition has it that if the shoe lands with the point downwards, it brings good luck to the couple and ensures a happy and prosperous married life. However, if the shoe lands with the point upwards, it is considered a bad omen and the newlyweds will face difficulties in their married life.

Shoe-throwing” is a fun custom that adds a touch of originality and superstition to Czech wedding festivities. It is often practised with joy and good humour by the guests, who encourage the groom to throw his shoe with skill to bring happiness and prosperity to the new couple.

Local customs in the Czech Republic linked to religion

Local customs in the Czech Republic relating to religion reflect the historical influence of Christianity, mainly the Roman Catholic Church. Here are some of the religious customs practised in the Czech Republic:

  1. Pilgrimages: Pilgrimages are an important part of religious practice in the Czech Republic. Thousands of worshippers visit pilgrimage sites such as Mount Sněžka, the monastery of Zelená Hora or the Marian shrine of Svatý Kopeček every year. These pilgrimages are often associated with spiritual and cultural traditions, with processions, prayers and specific rituals.
  2. Religious holidays: Religious holidays, especially those around Christmas and Easter, are celebrated with great fervour in the Czech Republic. At Christmas, Czechs attend midnight mass (půlnoční mše) in churches, followed by a family Christmas Eve. At Easter, believers take part in celebrations of Christ’s resurrection, including special masses and processions.
  3. Religious processions: Religious processions are a deeply rooted tradition in the Czech Republic. One of the most famous is the Three Kings Procession (Tříkrálová procese), which takes place on 6 January. Children dressed as the Three Wise Men walk through the streets singing Christmas carols and collecting donations for charity.
  4. Visiting churches: Czechs, whether religious or not, often visit churches for cultural and historical reasons. Czech churches are often magnificently decorated, and visiting these holy places is appreciated for their architecture, frescoes and religious sculptures.
  5. Forgiveness and confession: Confession (svatá zpověď) is an important religious practice for many Czechs. Before major religious holidays, such as Christmas and Easter, the faithful often go to church to ask God for forgiveness and receive the sacrament of reconciliation.

These religious customs in the Czech Republic bear witness to the importance of the Christian faith in the daily lives of Czechs and the cultural heritage that stems from it. However, it should be noted that religious influence has diminished over the years, and the country has become more secularised, with a growing number of people considering themselves non-religious or agnostic.

And to discover other local customs in the Czech Republic, you’re going to have to go on an internship abroad! International Horizons will find you the best internships in the Czech Republic: all you have to do is apply! And if you want more information, we’ve got lots of blogs about the Czech Republic, including advice on doing an internship abroad and the best cities to visit in the country!

For more general questions, visit the International Horizons Internships Abroad FAQ.