Category Archives: Czech heritage

St. Wenceslas name day in the Czech Republic, a national holiday

St. Wenceslas Statue in Prague.

By Emma Palova

Today is my dad Vaclav Konecny’s name day, and my brother’s as well. Vaclav is the regular modernized version of Wenceslas, which was a royal name for the kings of Bohemia. It is a national holiday in the Czech Republic also known as ‘Czech Statehood Day’ that has been celebrated since 2000.

Sept. 28 is the feast day of St. Wenceslas, the patron saint of Bohemia, and it commemorates his death in 935. St. Wenceslas was the duke of Bohemia and the patron saint of the Czech Republic. Unfortunately, he was the victim of a murder plot orchestrated by Boleslav, who was his own brother. People celebrate this feast with festivals around the nation.

The main square in Prague is called “Vaclavak” or Vaclavske Namesti. It’s more a boulevard than a square and it is the busiest place in Prague, and traditionally a place for gatherings and manifestations, the site of Christmas markets. The statue of St. Wenceslas adorns the boulevard at the top along with the National Museum.

Throughout the years, “Vaclavak”, originally known as Konsky Trh or Horse Market, has witnessed many demonstrations, both sad and joyful events; invasion of Soviet tanks in 1968, demonstrations against the Soviet occupation, 1989 Velvet Revolution demonstrations and demonstrations on Sept. 3 of this year against the current government.

A big celebration planned for Wenceslas Square on Sept. 28, 2022 has been canceled due to security reasons, as a protest is scheduled to take place on the square. The protest called “Czech Republic First” is taking place right now.

“Vaclavak” is the site of a big seasonal market offering beers, food, and souvenirs.

Happy name day to my father Vaclav who inspired my memoir Greenwich Meridian Memoir about our family immigration saga from former Czechoslovakia to the USA.

Copyright (c) 2022. Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

Your Free Taurus Daily Horoscope: Jun 1, 2022 | Tarot.com

Words can be weapons. That is my horoscope for the first day in June. As an author and journalist I find this to be very true, but also motivating to reach higher and go farther in everything I do.

The horoscope is basically warning me to watch what I write or say today. As I always I will speak my heart.

I am looking forward to the upcoming release of my new book “Shifting Sands: The Lost Town” in the Shifting Sands franchise and my first event of the season Palmer Park Art Fair in Detroit this weekend.

GREENWICH MERIDIAN MEMOIR, PALMER PARK ART FAIR, DETROIT

For all the Czechs living in the greater Detroit area organized around Sokol & other groups, stop by at booth no. 140e in the authors’ tent at the Palmer Park Art Fair.

I will be signing my Greenwich Meridian Memoir about our family immigration saga from former Czechoslovakia to the USA. The book is set on the backdrop of two major political events: 1968 Prague Spring and 1989 Velvet Revolution.

The protagonist is my father professor Vaclav Konecny whose ambition took us across three continents and back to Czechoslovakia for the presidential amnesty in 1973. Will he make it back to the USA?

Read your free Taurus Daily Horoscope to discover how the stars will align for you today! Reveal the hidden opportunities coming your way and any obstacles to be prepared for.
— Read on http://www.tarot.com/daily-horoscope/taurus/2022-06-01

Prague 2 to install permanent memorial to Jan Palach and Josef Toufar – Prague, Czech Republic

A now-derelict building where Czech martyr Palach and victim of communism Toufar spent their final hours will be transformed into a memorial to both men.

Featured photo is from FB Praha 2 page.
— Read on www.expats.cz/

Leaving Czechoslovakia

This is a traveling panel exhibit on loan from the National Czech and Slovak Museum (NCSM) in Cedar Rapids now installed at the Czech and Slovak Ed.Center & Historical Museum in Omaha through Feb. 27.

If you’re in the area, check it out in person or browse through our website to find out more about your roots.

The Museum is open on Saturdays from 10 am to 5 p.m. Sundays from 1 to 5 p.m. Give us your feedback in the comment section below.

Check out this oral history project “Leaving Czechoslovakia” during the Cold War.

Leaving Czechoslovakia

Copyright (c) 2022. Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

Czech Christmas Traditions II

The live carp in a bathtub

By Emma Palova

Lowell, MI – Among the age-old Czech Christmas traditions that I consider as the most bizarre and “fishy” was the purchase of a live carp on Christmas Eve or the day before for Christmas Eve dinner at the Czech open-air holiday markets.

The carp were transported in barrels with fresh water from the carp ponds in Southern Bohemia such as Trebon. The carp ponds were started in medieval times in the Rozmberk area. Annually in the autumn, the ponds are drained and the carp are netted and kept in large vats before they hit the holiday markets on city squares.

We had to stand in lines for fresh carp at the open markets and the no. 1 tip was not to forget your crochet net bag so the carp could breathe in it before you got the poor fish home, that had already been fighting for oxygen with hundreds of carp in the barrels and vats since November.

If you were lucky to get the carp home live, you had to release it into the bathtub. The next day the men in the household butchered it and it was served for Christmas Eve dinner. Sometimes the head was used for fish soup. We have always used the mushroom soup alternative.

The next hurdle you had to overcome was not to get a bone stuck in your throat. The fried carp always had plenty of bones, fat, and smelled of mud from the ponds, if it was big enough. Yet, it was the fish of choice for the festive dinner accompanied by potato salad, and soup.

If you had something different like fish fillets or fried schnitzel, it was looked down upon.

Fishy tradition modified

This fishy tradition I have modified accordingly since there is no live carp sold on American open holiday markets. At least not that I know of. For years I bought fish at the local grocer’s fish counter, until 2020, the year of Covid.

As I frequented farmer’s markets in 2020 due to Covid restrictions, I discovered fishmonger Dan Sodini from Middleville. He brings fresh and frozen fish from the cold waters of Lake Huron to the markets in West Michigan. Last year, he started the annual winter “fish drop” and I rejoiced.

I knew the Great Lakes Fish annual fish drop was as close as I could get to the Czech live carp tradition. During the first winter fish drop on Jan. 16th at the Ada market, I bought our Christmas fish: lake trout, whitefish, and salmon. And yes, I had to stand in a line. Thank you, Dan, for keeping our “fishy” tradition alive.

Some Czech families feeling sorry for the carp let it loose the next day, which was not recommended.

Back to Christmas Eve; those who fasted all day before dinner got to see the golden pig, signifying prosperity. Also if you put a scale from the carp under your plate or in your wallet, you will enjoy prosperity.

Creative Czechs have been inspired by the live carp tradition for generations; it has made its way into movies, folk tales, legends, poems, new blog posts, and radio talk.

If you see a star made from apple seeds by cutting an apple in half, the whole family will enjoy health for the entire year or there will be a birth in the family. On the other hand, if you see a cross from the apple seeds or the center is rotted, there will be a death in the family.

Single girls threw a shoe behind them at the doorstep, if the tip pointed to the door, the girl would get married next year. If it pointed inward, the girl would stay single for at least the next year.

Sometimes, we each floated a nut shell with a candle resembling little sailboats in a pot; the sailboats that traveled away from the edge, meant travel for their owners, the ones that stayed by the edge, meant staying home.

A major difference between Czech and American Christmas is that gifts are found underneath the tree right after dinner. “Jezisek” brings them while we eat.

This was preceded by a long period of hiding gifts, and hunting for them; finding gifts in unusual places and boxes marked with something else than the content. I picked up this tradition from my dad, Vaclav Konecny. Once in Africa, he put my doll in a box from a train. I remember the tears of disappointment, that didn’t last too long.

Mom Ella found her golden bracelets hanging like ornaments on the Christmas tree. Thanks, dad for this fun tradition.

Then, we play traditional Czech carols on the piano and the trumpet. We usually go for the Christmas mass the next day on Dec. 25th. Now, almost exclusively to St. Pat’s in Parnell.

In the Czech Republic, the day after Christmas Day was known as the Feast of St. Stephen, which we all celebrated by visiting with family and going to church.

Since we have been sharing our favorite Christmas traditions on my “For the Love of Books Podcast,” I would be remiss if I didn’t share my own.

Here we go:

Favorite holiday tradition

After a long day of working in the kitchen, my favorite moment was finally sitting down at the festive dinner table, lighting the candles, and seeing all the hungry faces ready to eat after the prayer led by the head of the family.

Check out the “For the Love of Books Podcast” on

http://emmapalova123.podbean.com

Merry Christmas

Copyright (c) 2021. Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

Happy birthday to former Czechoslovakia

The sovereign country of Czechoslovakia (now Czech Republic & Slovakia) emerged on Oct. 28, 1918, after the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire during World War I. On that day, the Czechoslovak National Council in Prague proclaimed its independence.

Referred to as the First Republic it existed from 1918 to 1938 when it ceded Sudetenland to German as part of the Munich Agreement.

The second republic lasted only half a year until the rest of Czechoslovakia was occupied by Germany in 1939.

Pictured in the feature photo is the 28. rijen 1918 rally of the people on Wenceslas Square in Prague.

Source: Wikipedia

Bannister Carries On Czech Traditions with Dancers

Premier Harvest Dozinky Czech and Slovak event canceled

The YELL group members are also members of The Bannister ZCBJ Czechoslovakian Folk Dancers.  

By Emma Palova

Bannister, MI- With a population of 100 nestled amidst the wheat fields of Mid-Michigan, the little town of Bannister carries on a proud Czech legacy dating back to 1906.

The first Czech immigrants were recruited by the Ann Arbor Railroad to help construct a river channel along the railroad tracks north of Bannister. Later they worked in the surrounding sugar beet fields. At one time, Bannister had two churches, one bar, an auto shop and a trade dealer. All that remains today is the post office.

“The newcomers to the area felt the need for some type of club or lodge of their own,” Tom Bradley wrote in his “Pamatnik.”

Josef Drtina traveled by horse and buggy from Cedar Rapids, Iowa to Michigan and secured enough members to start a new lodge in Bannister on October 1, 1911.

Today, the ZCBJ Lodge #225 is 1,000 members strong with a signature dance group led by Diane and Tom Bradley. The couple started the Bannister ZCBJ Czechoslovakian Folk Dancers in 1976. The dancers have all been dancing since they were each two years old.

Tom also plays polka music on WOES-FM Ovid-Elsie Community Radio-home of the Polka Palace. The music streams on the following link:

https://www.ovidelsie.org/o/Ovid%20Elsie%20Schools/page/woes-fm?fbclid=IwAR3wswoe8lNdGh3EvmdHs7sr_XdzdfJXPlwIPl122oX_blThFW0TvGGUM5U

Although it’s staple event- the “Harvest Dozinky Festival”- has been canceled this year again due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the lodge will have other events such as the upcoming “Walk for Hunger” on Aug. 8th.

“We think we might have our bazaar this year,” said Diane. “I don’t know about the other events. We go day by day.”

Annually, the lodge holds a bazaar on the last Saturday in October. Other events include: a fall dinner, Mikulas and Cert on the first Sunday in December, a mid-winter jamboree in February.

The Bradleys run the temporary Czech and Slovak Bakery in nearby Ashley from mid- November leading up to Christmas during the Polar Express event.

According to the Czech tradition, the bakery offers rohliky and poppy seed rolls.

“We grew up with the tradition, the language, the music and the food,” said Diane.

The ZCBJ Facebook page is https://www.facebook.com/ZCBJ-Lodge-225-BetterLife-126739624091965

Feature photo: ZCBJ board members: Bob Ladiski, Sally Stoll, Tom Bradley, Ed Fornusek, Joanne Fornusek, Ruth Malek, Diane Bradley.

Copyright © 2021. Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

Czech Name Days

April brings fun with new adventures

By Emma Palova

Lowell, MI – I am still fascinated with the Czech name days. The  Czech calendar attributes a name to each day year round. This originates in the saints’ names, and it was later expanded as the secular selection of names grew.

I’ve always wondered why the greeting card making companies like Hallmark never used this name opportunity to expand their portfolio. Now, they have their TV channel, so as the French say; It’s passe compose.

The Czechs and many other European countries kept this age-old tradition of celebrating name days on certain dates of the year. For example today-April 8- is Emma’s name day.

It’s sort of like the celebration of St. Pat’s Day on March 17 in Ireland and in the USA. Some name days are the basis for festivals like St. Mary’s in September. Others are totally obscure except for those who carry that particular name.

Since Joseph is such a popular name in Czech, March 19 is a big celebration of that name in the old country. It used to be in villages, that every other man was named Joseph.

After 30 years of living in the USA, I have trouble getting current Czech calendars. However, the big advantage is that the names always fall on the same dates, no matter what year.

April is an interesting month in Czech Republic overall with early blossoms and spring traditions. It’s even more interesting here in the USA with the upcoming outdoors events, that won’t hopefully get cancelled.

I am looking forward to all my new adventures like the podcast show “For the love of books” with Indie and small press authors, as well as my new involvement with the Czechoslovak Landmarks Society or landmarkstrust.org.

Subscribe to the major podcast channels and on YouTube.

Watch for the podcast with authors Jean Davis and Andrew Smith.

Copyright (c)2021. Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

Reviews from Americans of Czech origins

Bannister, MI – The following are reviews of the “Greenwich Meridian Memoir” by Thomas and Diane Bradley of Bannister, MI. Both are Michigan State Polka Music Hall of Fame 2012 inductees. They are one of the founders of the Czechoslovak Harvest Festival known as “Dozinky” held annually in Bannister on the first Sunday in August. The Bradleys are members of the Western Fraternal Life Association, Lodge Michigan #225.

Thomas Bradley

The “Greenwich Meridian Memoir” truly brought back memories of my trip with my grandmother to Czechoslovakia in 1960 when I was 17. We stayed with friends in one of those grey apartment buildings. The deal was you couldn’t talk to people without them looking around to make sure no one was listening. I knew part of what was going on but this book really provided insight as to what was truly taking place.

Also, I knew about the Charter 77 movement and this memoir helped to provide a bigger picture as to what was taking place. This book provided a great amount of insight into how the citizens of Czechoslovakia actually lived and their struggles during that period of communism. It was truly very informative.

Diane Bradley

I’ve heard many stories from my grandparents and elders in the family who immigrated to the United States from Czechoslovakia. Arriving between 1900 and 1910; they were from a different time and socioeconomic background.

I so enjoyed reading Emma’s family’s journey to a new and safer life. Their memories were of a new era and different circumstances. “Greenwich Meridian Memoir” truly broadened my perspective of immigrants’ lives and challenges.

About the feature photo: This is the cover of the “Greenwich Meridian Memoir” designed by graphic artist Jeanne Boss of Rockford.

Autumn Virtual Book Festival

Autumn Virtual Book Festival

Follow author readings and interviews during the month of October.

The festival features a variety of authors with diverse genres.

https://www.facebook.com/events/2364082633894256

Copyright (c)2020. Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

Happy Birthday mom

Mom Ella turns 83 today

By Emma Palova

Big Rapids, MI – My mother, Ella Konecny, turns 83 on this beautiful summer day. We celebrated her birthday yesterday in Big Rapids with a cookout on the deck. Mom always puts on a feast: juicy ribs, coleslaw, mashed potatoes and her famous nutty cake roll, all preceded by a traditional Czech platter of cheese, salami and home-made pickles Znojmo style.

Dad Vaclav Konecny grills ribs on the deck overlooking my parents’ pretty garden. They grow and can their own delicious pickles.

Together with my father Vaclav, they’ve been living in this small university town, home to Ferris State University, for more than four decades.

Mom was born Drabkova in former communist Czechoslovakia on Aug. 23, 1937 in Zlin to a working class family. My grandparents Anna and Joseph Drabek worked hard to get mom into the university so she could become the future pharmacist.

My mother has inspired the memoir Greenwich Meridian, where East meets west about the family immigration saga. She didn’t want to leave the communist country after the Soviet invasion on the night of August 20-21 in 1968.

The memoir, slated for Oct. 16, 2020 publication is dedicated to both of my parents because they have always inspired me both in hard and good times with their dedication and perseverance. It is available now on preorder on Amazon at:

Greenwich Meridian Memoir is slated for Oct. 16, 2020 publication. It is available for preorder on Amazon. The cover was designed by graphic artist Jeanne Boss of Rockford.

Their journey from the Moravian hilly villages of Vizovice and Stipa to Big Rapids in Michigan was tumultuous with many twists and turns.

Some of the milestones included the 1973 return to hardline Czechoslovakia from Texas, and then the escape back into the New World for my dad in 1976. Mom joined him in 1980.

Dad landed the math professor job at the Ferris State University, and that finally anchored them permanently in their new home.

To this day, mom says she loved her bio lab technician job also at the university.

Their true story has also inspired my fiction in my first Shifting Sands Short Stories book. “The Temptation of Martin Duggan” contains some bits and pieces from the early years of immigration.

I wrote that story shortly after  my immigration to the USA in 1989. When I compare some of the elements of the short story to the memoir, I consider them Visceral in character, coming from a gut feeling.

The main character in the story is professor Martin Duggan obsessed with his own quest for perfection.

May you both enjoy many more years of love, good health and optimism. Thank you for all your love and support.

For chapters “Prague Spring, Part I” & “Prague Spring, Part II from the memoir click on the following links:

https://emmapalova.com/2020/08/20/prague-spring-1968/

https://emmapalova.com/2020/08/21/prague-spring-1968-part-ii/

Copyright (c) 2020. Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.