Showing posts from December, 2011

Prague at the New Year!

Our friend Marion has visitors from the US, and she asked us to make some recommendations for places to visit in Prague besides the standard Staromestske namesti, Hradcany, and Karluv Most.

Jarda came up with a nice list:
1. Karlstejn Castle, just outside of Prague. High Gothic castle founded in 1348, which has a unique position among Czech castles. It was built by Czech King and Roman Emperor Charles IV as a place for safekeeping of the royal treasures, especially Charles's collection of holy relics and the coronation jewels of the Roman Empire.

Special exhibits can be accessed here:

2. Loreta, near Hradcany.The previous generations built the Prague pilgrim place Loreta, a former church of the Lobkowitz family (the founders of the church). The following generations have been taking care of this heritage. The history of Loreta includes not only t…

Cracking the nut of Czech culture, part II

My previous post offers a vivid, insightful analogy (round of applause for ucitelka Sara!) about cultures: they are like nuts.

Successful cultures that survive centuries of wars, crusades, cultural imperialism, forced conversions and assimilations, oppression and persecution have very tough outer shells. Like a hard nut, the outer shell protects the tender inner living matter (the nutmeat). This hard shell is a valuable means of protection.

The problem is, though, that if the nut is too hard to crack, the living matter within will die. Did you ever crack open a nut and find a shriveled, bitter bit of stuff inside--a dead, dried-up nutmeat. That hard outer surface became a prison for the living nutmeat, overdoing the protecting part with very bad and wasteful results.

The same is true of cultures. Without fresh ideas, additions to the gene pool, and life-giving oxygen in the form of new influences that challenge the old, cultures will wither and die.

A nut is meant to reproduce. I…

a tough nut to crack

Think of a nut; let's say, a hazelnut:
Imagine trying to crack it open with just your fingers, or your teeth (no! not a good idea!). It would be a challenging task.

The hard surface of the nut protects what's inside while keeping out what's not necessary or beneficial for the kernel of living matter inside--the nutmeat or "inner nut," so to speak. From the nut's point of view, the harder the outer casing, the better.

Cultures that endure are like hard nuts. They present a surface to the world which is hard to crack, while protecting the inner nutmeat.

Living in a culture that's not your own (by birth, heritage or long association) is like trying to crack open nuts without tools. Just when you think you're beginning to understand the culture, or even be accepted into it, you find the hard shell staring you in the face, mocking (if you want to personify the nut) your naive belief that you can ever enter it.

After living in Prague full-time for 16 months…

Officially Christmas

For a country that proudly proclaims itself atheist (40%-90% of Czechs call themselves atheists in various polls), the CR sure puts on a fantastic Christmas! Czechs especially love nativity scenes, and you can find exhibitions of creches all over the CR.

December 1 is the "official" start of Christmas activities. Here we go!