I have recently come across a description of the seven facts about Czech people published on the Russian touristic website. It is said that those things would immediately drag attention of every Russian person coming to Czech Republic for a first time. I would like to dispel some of these myths, while adding my own notes, based on my personal observations. I am not entirely sure if this is going to be of any interest for my English-speaking friends, but I am going to try anyway.
Fact no.1 “Almost all Czechs are wearing scarves and no one knows what is the real reason behind this. According to some sources the Prague cold subway is to be blamed, however other sources suggest that Czech people have very poor immune systems.”
Although I moved to the Czech Republic quite recently, I can say for sure that not all the Czechs wear scarves, and one can be even jealous of their immune systems. I would say more: I have never seen any other country, where people are so keen on sports and especially skiing. (well maybe except of Switzerland). As well I have never seen so many under-dressed people in a cold weather. It is not unusual to see a girl or a guy walking down street in Prague wearing a light sweater in – 5 degrees. I really don’t think that people with low immune systems would experiment with such weather conditions. Well and all those stalls around selling scarves are for tourists …
Fact no.2 “Men and women switched their gender roles”
Certainly Czech women are very independent compared to the Russian ones, however this statement is not absolutely true. The author of the article probably refers to stereotypes of gender roles in the field of public behavior in Russia. In Russia a man has to be a gentleman. One has to give some extra respect to women, which implies opening doors/car or giving up a seat on the bus. I judge solely from my own experience, but it’s never occurred to me that I was not offered help with heavy bags, opening doors and any of this matter. If you go to a restaurant or cafe with group of friends, as a rule each person pays for himself/herself. However if a guy asks you out, you can expect that he is going to pay for you. In restaurant man always walks through the door first, so that he takes everyone’s gaze instead of the lady. My Czech friend explained this by saying that a man’s main duty is to protect his woman and therefore by entering a restaurant first he stands in the breach. (yeah whatever can happen in a restaraunt J) Nevertheless the explanation for this rule is described in Czech etiquette book “Společenský katechismus” written by Jiří Stanislav Guth-Jarkovský back in 1914: by entering the doors first man has a priority to find the most appropriate place in the restaurant for him and his woman.
Fact no.3 “Czech men dress with more care than Czech women”
In my opinion Czech men as well as Czech women prefer casual style of cloth.
Fact no.4 “Czech people do not care about their clothing.”
This is absolutely true. Czech people are very practical and in everyday life they prefer rugged, durable clothing. By the way many of my friends, living in Czech Republic, say that if a girl comes on heels, then it is 80 percent sure that she is Russian. The same applies to people dressed in furs and fur coats but in this case probability is much higher.
Fact no.5 “Czechs blow their noses really loud”
I have to agree again. Czechs blow their noses really loud and no matter where they are. Be it a public transport or a restaurant and this is not considered to be impolite. However differently from Russia Czechs greet each other when entering a shop, an elevator, gym, cinema, and restaurant. Basically any public shared space. It is an obligatory attribute of courtesy. It is also not polite to address a person with “ty” (you) without asking whether it is possible to switch from ty (you) to vy (polite form of you). If you have to cooperate with the Czechs in business you should be aware of the fact that Czechs like to take it easy. They do not like when business partners are trying to hurry them or speed up the deal. This may lead to a breakdown of the transaction. When you are invited to visit do not forget to bring a box of chocolates or a bottle of wine. Sometimes you can bring flowers. In Czech Republic (same as in Russia) it is a common practice to bring an odd number of flowers. An even number of flowers is appropriate to give at funerals.
Fact no. 6 “The younger generation of Czechs is not big fan of the traditional food. That is why there are so many Italian and Chinese restaurants around Prague”
This is a good one! Many Czechs who are so proud of their mama’s knedliky would be offended after reading this! Majority of Italian and Chinese (especially Chinese) restaurants were founded by the immigrants from those countries. Moreover in Chinese restaurants the food is not always of good quality. So do go to the restaurants with Czech cuisine, and do not forget to ask for the menu in Czech. In the end it is not so difficult to learn the names of the dishes in Czech. Often in English menu the prices of the same dishes are higher.
Fact no.7 “Czech people are early risers”
I do agree that Czechs are “early birds”. That is why I better go bed soon otherwise I will no manage to do the morning shopping and enjoy fresh bakery!