Birthday and freeing of Prague
Excerpts from memoir Greenwich Meridian: Where East meets West
The Tide of immigration from former Czechoslovakia started in 1968 with the Soviet army occupation. A massive exodus followed in protest of the action by the Soviet Union government. My father professor Vaclav Konecny was part of the movement.
As I continue to write the memoir in May, I will start with its festivities .The month of May was very poetic and romantic. With the entire country in blossom, the major holidays included Mayday and Freedom Day on May 9th when the Russians freed Prague from the Nazi occupation. in 1945. The new regime moved the national holiday to May 8th, when the American army reached the famous beer town of Pilsner in Western Bohemia.
May also serves as athe stage for the biggest music event of the year, the Prague Spring International Music Festival, started by president Edward Benes in 1946. The festival is a tribute to the famouse Czech composer Bedrich Smetana. He is best known for his symphony Vltava inspired by the major Czech river that runs through Prague.
To my biggest regret, I’ve never been to Prague Spring. The 1968 political movement was also called Prague Spring.
The month of May is dedicated to Saint Mary in the catholic church. We used to sing Marianne hymns by the little chapels and in churches decorated with white hydrangeas and dahlias every evening at 6 p.m. It was a month for first communions, pretty white lace dresses and ribbons.
But, May had its dark side according to the lore; it wasn’t a good time to get married. Legend has it if a couple gets married in May, one of the partners will die early.
Were there weddings in May? Probably.
However, a big part of the population was superstitious partly due to Czech literature and its great authors. Some of the biggest ones who wrote about May were Karel Hynek Macha and Jaromir Erben.
May is known for opening of the beer gardens under the beautiful lilac blossoms.
I remember our neighbor Mr. J had a big old lilac tree that had both purple and white blossoms. I was always puzzled by that, since you really only saw one color or the other. Many years later someone told me that Mr. J had it grafted.
To be continued
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