The Most Random Things I’ve Learned About Czech Culture This Week
Here is a rather more frivolous post, perfect for those looking for some random end of the week entertainment or an excuse to procrastinate. I have been working on another more serious post about the Czech Republic but it’s not finished yet. In the meanwhile I bring you… some Czech stuff.
In my mind, one of the very most enjoyable parts of traveling is coming into contact with the everyday parts of a culture that seem truly strange to the traveller and really highlight how different what’s considered “typical” or “funny” or “beautiful” or “delicious” or “appealing” might be depending on the location.
I ran into a few fun cultural oddities while in Prague, and a few more while reading up on the Czech Republic. If you are interested in knowing more about things like “beer baths,” hip-hop marionettes and beetle absinthe, read on!
The infamous alcohol absinthe is such a famous brew in the Czech Republic that I wasn’t particular surprised to pass by an Absinthe Museum, replete with absinthe ice cream and absinthe coffee (to go!). I was a bit more surprised, while in a convenience store to run into this apparently widely available beverage – Beetle Absinth.
The bottle contains a very large insect known in English as a Spiny Devil Walking Stick – or in Latin Eurycantha horrida. Next time I’m in the Czech Republic I’m determined to be game enough to try it.
Marionettes are a particularly popular toy and art-form in the Czech Republic – there is even a National Marionette Theater. Gobs of stores all over Prague sell these beautiful dolls and the shopkeepers will often dance them around in front of the store to attract visitors. We ran into this particularly talented and rhythmic Pinocchio one evening, who was a step above the rest:
And another combination of folk-art and pop culture…
As a testament not only to the Czech love of beer, but the Czech love of cats, we found this amazing mural in a restaurant called the Two Cats.
Closeup of the CAT BEING MILKED FOR BEER and then being offered the beer to drink. Not quite sure what the business man is doing…
And for more evidence of the Czech passion for beer – here you can learn about the Beer Spa:
I ran into this video today and it just made me so happy. Watch the first version I’ve included (without subtitles) and just TRY to imagine what the song might be about.
And now watch it with English Subtitles. I can’t really express how happy this makes me….
The song, Jožin z bažin, is by Czech musician and comedian Ivan Mládek.
It’s so nice that after having gone through 40 years of very difficult communist rule, the Czechs can laugh about it.
This restaurant would probably not go over well in Great Britain or the United States after we all learned about Mad Cow disease…
I cannot decide if this is horrible, beautiful, disgusting, amazing or all of the above, but I definitely want to go see it. The Church of Bones.
Semi-functional modern art with a comic twist- the Peeing Men outside Franz Kafka’s house.
According to the Visiting Prague website: “These statues…created by famous Czech artist and sculptor David Cerny…are not just peeing, with the stream of water they write quotes from famous Prague residents. They move realistically by means of an electric mechanism driven by a couple of microprocessors swivels the upper part of the body, while the penis goes up and down. These statues became so popular among visitors that now you can send SMS message from mobile phone to a number, displayed next to the sculptures and the living statue then ‘writes’ the text of the message, before carrying on as before.”
Although this video looks suspiciously like a joke, it was actually the Czech Republic’s official 2009 entry to the Eurovision Song Contest. Sadly, it did not get any votes.
While some things about art and culture deviate greatly from place to place, it’s amazing how completely identical CERTAIN things have become. I bring you Česko Slovensko má talent (Czechs and Slovaks Have Talent!)
Same nervousness, same pre-performance, incredulous glances from the judges and audience. Seemingly the same female judge as on all “Got Talent” shows. Same surprise talent from otherwise dowdy individual. Same enrapt faces of judges. Same post-performance exhilaration. This formula clearly works on people across the planet…
Here’s a video of the President of the Czech Republic ostensibly stealing a pen.
I know this video has already kind of gone viral, but since it IS of the President of the Czech Republic, I had to share it again.
The president’s defense? That he does this all the time! “It is what people do regularly. They keep notepads and pens from such events,” he said.
If you’d like to read another post about Prague please see: Prague: Image and Impression