To most of us from an Anglophone background Easter consists of a glut of chocolate eggs, magic bunny rabbits, Easter egg hunts and reruns of “von Ryan’s Express” or “The Greatest Story Ever Told” featuring John Wayne’s epic performance as a Roman centurion muttering the immortal words, “Surely this man was the son of God” or for those more religiously inclined church services celebrating the death and resurrection of our Lord and saviour Jesus Christ, followed by the aforementioned activities
However in the Czech Republic this is not how Easter is celebrated, granted that even in this most atheist of countries some people do celebrate Easter as a religious feast and attend mass at church but for the large majority, the pagan symbols and celebrations hold more sway much as they do in the UK.
Continue reading “Easter In East Bohemia”
As I have mentioned before I live and work in the Czech Republic. One of the biggest challenges of living here is the Czech language, which after four years I am still very far from competency. Many Czech words look completely alien to me and very unpronounceable however some words are the same or almost the same as they are in English, either letter for letter or just adapted to fit with Czech pronunciation.
One such word is víkend which as you probably guessed means weekend. I started to wonder why this word appears to come from English and why there wasn’t a Czech word for weekend. Like so many questions I have with this most challenging of languages I ask my students to see what they know. No one I asked could tell me a Czech alternative to víkend (weekend). However a couple of them point out that historically of course there was no weekend most people would have worked on Saturday with only Sunday off for religious reasons. This is nicely illustrated in the Czech word for Sunday, Neděle which I believe literally means ‘to do nothing’.
So was the concept of weekend an Anglo centric idea? I have to say I do not know but it certainly appears that way. Many other languages also seem to adopt the English word. Even French which does have its own phrase fin de semaine seems at times to prefer le weekend.
I can only deduce that Czechs only started taking weekends sometime after the establishment of the first republic and after the phrase had been coined in English speaking countries.
It is funny the things we sometimes ponder, absolutely useless information but I am glad I know a little bit more than I did before I asked the question.