The Czech Republic celebrates May 1 under the cherry blossoms

Officially commemorated as Labor Day in the Czech Republic, May 1 traditions mark the return of warm weather and spring blossoms.

Expats.cz Staff

Written by Expats.cz Staff Published on 01.05.2022 09:58:00 (updated on 01.05.2022) Reading time: 2 minutes

May 1 is a public holiday in the Czech Republic, officially commemorated as Labor Day (Svátek práce). Czech and Bohemian traditions celebrating May 1 and the return of the warm weather months far predate the modern incantation of the holiday, however.

Schools, companies, and public offices are closed on May 1, though because it falls on a Sunday this year, employees are deprived a day off work. The same situation will repeat next weekend on the May 8 (Liberation Day) public holiday.

While May 1 is a public holiday in the Czech Republic, it is not among the dates that shops over 200 square meters in size must close, meaning grocery stores and shopping malls are still open today. These stores will be closed, however, next Sunday for the May 8 holiday.

Labor Day is celebrated in many countries across the world, though not always on the same date. It is linked to May 1 in the United Kingdom and most of Europe (coinciding with International Workers Day), but celebrated in September in the United States and Canada, and in March in Australia.

The history of Labor Day dates back to the labor union movement that pushed for an standardized eight-hour workday in the late 19th century. Labor unions in the United States set a date of May 1, 1886 for the eight-hour workday to take effect, and held strikes across the country when that didn't occur.

The eight-hour workday remains a labor standard throughout much of the world nearly 140 years later, though reforms have been making progress in Europe. A four-day work week has been tested by companies in Prague, with promising results.

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Most Czech celebrations relating to May 1, meanwhile, go back further to the holiday's May Day roots. They include a celebration of blossoming trees and flowers, warm weather, and even romance.

One of the most enduring May 1 traditions in the Czech Republic is to kiss your partner under a blossoming cherry tree. According to local custom, a girl who is kissed under a cherry tree on this date will remain beautiful throughout the year.

While cherry trees might be difficult to find in most major cities, that's not the case with Prague, which frequently makes lists of the world's greenest cities. You can find numerous cherry trees in Petřín Park in the city center, Stromovka in Prague 7, and most of the Czech capital's other parks and gardens.

Prague's Botanical Gardens also make for a great place to see some new spring blossoms in May.

Just outside of Prague, Průhonice park also makes for a prime destination for a spring stroll. Further south, the popular tourist destination Český Krumlov is also known for its spring celebrations.

Though less common to see in Prague, the erection of a celebratory maypole is also a May 1 tradition in the Czech Republic and elsewhere in Europe. Dating back to paganism, the maypole, decorated with spring blossoms, is a sign that the warmer weather season has finally returned after the winter months.

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