Quarantine, Cinderella, and dumplings: Czechs’ top Google searches paint a picture of 2021

The most-searched topics and people show a nation preoccupied with the pandemic and societal changes.

 William Nattrass

Written by William Nattrass Published on 09.12.2021 16:19 (updated on 09.12.2021) Reading time: 2 minutes

It’s been a tumultuous year in the Czech Republic. The Covid pandemic has continued to wreak havoc with everyday life, while the nation has seen momentous events such as a general election, political scandals, and natural disasters, while bidding a last farewell to some of its most important citizens.

The pandemic may have dominated the news this year, but it was rivalled in online searches by other hot topics, according to Google's Year In Search 2021 report for the Czech Republic. These included the election, the census which took place in May, international sports events, the effects of the energy crisis, and Czech President Miloš Zeman, who, due at least in part to his hospitalization in October, was the nation’s most-searched personality.

Indeed, it's clear that politics occupied the public mind for large parts of the year. In second place behind Zeman on the list of Czech personalities was former TOP 09 MP Dominik Feri, who resigned over a sexual harassment scandal described as a key moment in the Czech Republic’s #metoo movement.

The general election was meanwhile the fifth-biggest overall search trend, and the third most-searched event of the year.

Nonetheless, Google's results also show the gripping effect of the pandemic on the public imagination. Three of the top ten biggest search trends were pandemic-related: vaccination registration (No. 4), FFP2 respirator (No. 6), and antigen tests (No. 10). Two of the top five most-searched questions were also Covid-related: “How long is an antigen test valid?” (No.1) and “How long does quarantine last?” (No. 4).

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Google also compiles an annual “sad farewells” ranking, showing the personalities whose death in the past year resulted in the most searches. Top of this list in the Czech Republic was late billionaire Petr Kellner, whose death in a helicopter crash in March shook the nation. Second was beloved actress Libuše Šafránková, most famous for her starring role in the popular Three Wishes for Cinderella (Tří oříšky pro Popelku) Christmas fairytale.

The most-searched foreign personality was American actor Johnny Depp, whose appearance at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival made headline news due in part to controversy surrounding the actor over allegations of domestic abuse. Another controversy-hit U.S. actor, Alec Baldwin, was the second most-searched foreigner, after his involvement in an accidental death on a movie set in October.

Across the various categories assessed by Google, another important search topic was tornados, as a result of the tornado which devastated villages in South Moravia in June. Meanwhile, in line with global trends, bitcoin as an investment opportunity also saw high levels of interest; “How to buy bitcoin?” was the sixth most-searched question.

Bohemia Energy’s bankruptcy in October was meanwhile the fourth most-searched event of the year, highlighting Czechs concerns about the economic crisis following on from the health crisis caused by the pandemic.

Google’s results paint a picture of many of the significant changes seen in the Czech Republic over the past year. But a morsel of comfort can be taken from traditional results topping Czechs’ most-searched recipes: Sekaná (meatloaf) and bread dumplings were the top two most searched foods. Amid a year of upheaval, it’s clear some things, at least, never change.

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