When we moved to Switzerland, I was surprised to see many flags – Swiss or at least cantonal – in the gardens, on the balconies or in the windows. I only knew this from American movies, where the flags with stars and stripes were hanging in front of every school, sometimes even in front of the houses. At first, I was wondering what they were celebrating here? Then I realized that it was more than usual habit here.
Before every national holiday, the shops are full of “Swiss products” (I mean with the Helvetic cross on them) – donuts, for example, with small Helvetic crosses as icing, lanterns, tea candles, even wooden cooking spoon with an engraved Helvetic cross (I must admit, I couldn´t resist, and had bought one too :)). I wonder why this is not common in the Czech Republic as well?
It has already been written a lot about how the Czechs are patriots only in case of supporting a Czech national team (in case it´s doing well). We gather on squares, faces painted with red, white and blue colours, our cars decorated with national flags etc. Maybe I´ve become a more patriotic living abroad and I really regret that we cannot show the love for our country other times than only during a major sporting event.
This year we commemorate of several important anniversaries in the history of our country. One right at the beginning of the year – January 1, 25 years since the division of Czechoslovakia and the establishment of the independent Czech Republic. Another anniversary is coming in February. And no, I really don´t mean twenty years since the famous ice hockey victory at the Nagano Olympics in 1998! But February 1948, when the Communist coup took place, and the democratic Czechoslovak Republic joined the Soviet power block. In August, we will commemorate the 50th anniversary of the invasion of Warsaw Pact troops into Czechoslovakia, which took place in 1968. Finally, in October we will celebrate the biggest anniversary – 100 years since the foundation of the Czechoslovak Republic, which was established after the break-up of Austria-Hungary after the World War I. in 1918.
I understand that because of the aforementioned, many people have a bad experience with the mandatory hanging Czech flags next to those red with a sickle and hammer, but there are other possibilities. Life in Switzerland has opened my eyes to the fact that the love of homeland and its symbols can be a part of everyday life.
I know that a lot of Czechs (although they complain about the situation in the Czech Republic) are proud of being born in the Czech Republic. Even if we don´t show it ostentatiously so often. I see this as latent, yet strong patriotism. Because when a foreigner arrives in the Czech Republic, he sees the national flag posted on public offices or public transport only on a public/national holiday. And that’s quite a shame, what do you think?
So, a gauntlet is thrown down for the “marketers” and the creatives – how should look like such a product that you´d buy to remind you of where you come from?
I like the idea of Pin Up & Vintage studio who shot a beautiful calendar with retro dresses for almost every decade of the last century.
And who would like to pin the brooch with national colours (which has been made by my sister according to my design) to commemorate the anniversary of our country, don´t hesitate to contact her via Facebook and she will make one especially for you.
Maybe patriotism and religion have something in common: some people need flags and churches, others are proud and faithful just in their everyday life?
Your country certainly has an interesting history, and there’s a lot to be proud of. The Czech Republic is certainly a strong opponent where ice hockey is concerned, but you knew that!
Happy New Year, Hana, keep up the great spirit!
Thank you, Tamara! I´m looking forward to Czech vs. Swiss vs. Canadians encounters in the upcoming Olympic Games! 😉
Hmmm I don’t know. In Australia and in England, the display of the flag (the English flag – a white cross on red – in the latter case, not the Union flag) tends to be mostly by right-wing types who display all the nasty sides of nationalism and want “foreigners out” (including, bizarrely, hatred of Aboriginals in Australia). I think a lack of too much patriotism can be quite healthy!
Yes, there is definitely a thin line between patriotism and nationalism! I tend to be more patriotic 😉
* Apologies. England flag is a red cross on a white background.