The Czechmate Diary…


Prizes for promoting the Czech culture abroad / Ceny za sireni ceske kultury v zahranici June 23, 2007

Filed under: Czech news — Tanja @ 4:12 am

reward.jpg The Czech Minister of Foreign Affairs Karel Swarzenberg held this Tuesday in Prague an award-giving ceremony. Who was worthy of this s0-called Gratias Agit prize? Anyone who has been promoting the Czech Republic’s good name abroad. This year’s winners became 2 organizations and 14 persons. Compared to the last year results, however, this year’s champions were mostly foreigners:


  1. Texas Czech Heritage and Cultural Center – currently building a Czech museum
  2. “Stonozka” organization in Norway – founded by Czech fellow-countryman Bela Gran Jensen; humanitarian organization where the Czech and the Norwegian children help other children from around the world by selling their hand-drawn pictures, where the money raised is used for a purchase of first aid necessities.


  • Jiri Hlinka from Norway – Czech piano player and a music teacher
  • Milos Forman – Czech American film-maker (see my previous post on him)
  • Cahan Rozen from Israel – born and raised in Ostrava, founder of the League for Israel-Czechoslovakian Friendship, also a member of Israeli organization called the Friends of the Czech Republic
  • Irena Kirkland from the USA – Czech-born; activist for human rights, rights of the workers and immigrants (more…)

A little bit of history….Czech-American Institutions from Past to Present: Religion (Part V) June 21, 2007

Filed under: Czech-American history — Tanja @ 5:07 am

last_supperda_vinci.jpg Czech Americans and their relationship towards Religion

The earliest Czech immigrants (the Moravian Brethren) came to America solely to search for religious freedom. The later immigration wave of Czechs (after 1850) was coming for many different reasons such as education, political convictions and others . Yet still the majority of Czech Americans belonged to the Catholic Church – the only recognized religion by the Hapsburg Empire. This Hapsburg re-Catholization of the Czech lands left many Czechs scared, especially since the Czech lands used to be predominantly protestant. No wonder that when these “forced Catholics” came to the free America, about a half of them decided to turn their backs on Catholicism all together. The other half that stayed Catholic and didn’t have a Czech congregation in their vicinity usually joined some German or Polish Catholic congregations. By 1920 America had about 350 Czech priests and about 200, 000 Czech Catholics.

Czech Protestants in America consisted mostly of descendants of the Hussites and Moravian Brethren. Their most famous congregation has been the Jan Hus Presbyterian Church in New York City (founded in 1888).

And then there were the blossoming Progressives and the Freethinkers who refused any kind of religion. These two groups received support and sympathy from the socialists and the atheists and together they established in America many atheist schools, ceremonies for marriages, funerals and other important events. (more…)


New Charles Bridge museum / Nove Museum Karlova mostu June 20, 2007

Filed under: Czech news — Tanja @ 4:23 am

Charles Bridge Are you planning on going to Prague sometime soon? The city has a new sightseeing place for you to see. The new Museum of Charles Bridge is located on Krizovnicke square and will be opening this Sunday. Besides the “Prague exposition” which shows the way Prague looked in the 10th century, visitors will also be able to check out one of the “mlynsky” rocks, which was the authentic corner stone of Charles Bridge. Exhibition will also show the historical wooden machines as well as the tools that carpenters and masons used while building the bridge. Although its construction began in 1357 the whole structure was completed no earlier than at the end of the 15th century. What is interesting is that the bridge was called the Prague Bridge until the second half of the 19th century when it was finally renamed to Charles Bridge. Do you know why is it that the bridge has been standing so steady throughout all these centuries? That’s because the builders would put eggs into the plaster so that the whole structure would stick together better…And that’s for real!

Chystate se do Prahy?? Nove zrizene museum Karlova mostu je situovane na Krizovnickem namesti a jeho bezny provoz zacina jiz tuto nedeli. Krome expozice modelu Prahy – jak vypadala v 10. stoleti – budou mit navstevnici take moznost shlednout jeden z mlynskych kamenu, na nichz byl Karluv most roku 1357 postaven. Vystaveny budou take modely tehdejsich stavebnich drevenych stroju a dobove pracovni nastroje tehdejsich tesaru a kameniku. Samotny most byl ale celkove dokoncen az koncem 15. stoleti. Jmeno “Karluv most” mu bylo prisouzeno az v druhe polovine 19.stoleti; pred tim se jmenoval most Prazsky. A uz jste slyseli, proc je jiz po staleti tak neodolny? Protoze do malty tehdy pridavali vajicka a to aby byla malta extra lepkava!


Milos Forman: Amadeus in his own right / Milos Forman: Amadeus sveho stylu June 19, 2007

Filed under: Famous Czech people — Tanja @ 4:32 am

Milos Forman Ingenious Czech-American Jan Tomas Forman (his formal name) was born in Caslavi on Febuary 18th, 1932.Both of his parents (Jewish father and protestant mother) died in Auschwitz concentration camp when he was just a little boy. What was the reason? His father belonged to the Czech Resistance group and his mother was dealing with an illegal grocery trade. The rest of his childhood/adulthood spent Forman living with his distant relatives as well as at the dorms of Podebrady’s public school. There he also met young Vaclav Havel (1st president of the Czech Republic) and Masin brothers ( who later started an armed anti-Communist resistance). After finishing high school he tried to get into the the University of Acting (DAMU) in Prague but without success. His second choice was the University of Film (FAMU), also located in Prague, and this time was Forman accepted. He graduated in 1968. His first major movie became the black-humored comedy “Cerny Petr” (Black Peter; 1963), which was followed by another debut “Loves of a Blond” (Lasky jedne plavovlasky; 1965). In 1967 he finished the “Fireman’s ball” (Hori, ma panenko; 1967), which was quickly forbidden by the government because it was “making fun of the common man”. When the Soviet tanks rumbled into Prague in 1968 Milos was in Paris working on his first American movie “Taking off”. The Czech studio for which he worked fired him, claiming that he had left the country illegally. Those circumstances led him to leave Europe and come to America where people already loved him for his unique film-making skills. Compared to the recently deceased Jan Benes (see my recent post on him), Forman’s first job in the United States was quite a breeze: he accepted a position as a professor of film at the Columbia University.

05m.jpg The first movie that made him famous in the New World was adaptation of Ken Kesey’s novel “One flew over the Cuckoo’s nest” (1974) which won him five Oscars. Few years later Forman created “Amadeus”, another piece of art, which won him eight Oscars!



Another classic recipe: Zelnacka / Sourkraut soup June 18, 2007

Filed under: Recipes — Tanja @ 1:51 am

Zelnacka I consulted three cookbooks for this recipe of which one is taken from the “Velka Kucharka”(Big Cookbook) by Brabec – a favorite cookbook of my mom’s. “Velka kucharka” was written during deep communist times (1969) so the authenticity of this recipe is 100% guaranteed…



  • 7 0z. Sauerkraut
  • 6 cups of water
  • 2 potatoes, diced
  • 2 tbs. of flour
  • 1 onion,diced
  • 4 slices of bacon
  • Polish sausage (kielbasa)
  • 5-10 white mushrooms, diced
  • 1 tsp. Caraway seeds
  • 1-2 tsp. Sweet paprika
  • (more…)

Which 2 Czech songs have been rulling the world? / Jake 2 ceske pisnicky otrasaji svetem?? June 16, 2007

Filed under: Czech news — Tanja @ 6:05 am

Recent poll showed that the two Czech songs which have become the greatest hits also abroad are polka dance “Skoda Lasky” by Jaromir Vejvoda and “Lady Carneval” written by Karel Svoboda. These two hits are followed by other folk songs such as Jetelicek, Cikanka and Slavnic polka, as well as Svoboda’s other hits such as “Kdepak ty ptacku hnizdo mas”, “Stin Katedral”, “Hej baby hey” and “Cau lasko”. Vejvoda’s polka Skoda lasky had become so famous – especially among sailors – that it received its own name: the Beer Barrel Polka. Can you guess how much did its creator get payed back in 1930’s?? He received only 150Kc!! That is not very much for the fact that it later became the everyday wake-up song to the Discovery cosmonaut crew!!!

To listen to the Beer Barrel Polka melody, go to

For Czech lyrics go to

CZ: Nejcasteji slysene pisnicky v zahranici jsou pry polka Skoda Lasky od Jaromira Vejvody a Svobodova Lady Carneval. Hned pod nimi se radi dalsi hity ceske dechovky (Jetelicek, Cikanka a Slavovnicka polka) a Svobodovy hitovky jako je Kdepak ty ptacku hnizdo mas, Stin katedral, Hej baby hey a Cau lasko. V Americe se modranska polka Skoda lasky stala tak slavnou a to zejmena mezi namorniky, ze je znama pod jmenem Beer Barrel Polka (Pivni hymna). Hadejte, kolik za ni Vejvoda ve 30. letech dostal zaplaceno?? pouchych 150 Kc!! A to se stala tak slavnou, ze se pry jeji nahravkou budili kosmonauti v raketoplanu Discovery!!!



Bolek Polivka is onto something again../ Bolek Polivka zase neco kuti.. June 15, 2007

Filed under: Czech news,Famous Czech people — Tanja @ 1:13 am

uninted-we-stand.jpg Famous Czech actor, screenwriter and comedian Bolek Polivka, which is known from the movies “Divided we fall” (Musime si pomahat;2000), “Something like happiness” (Stesti; 2005), Pelisky (1999), Balada pro banditu (Ballad for a bandit;1983) and others, is getting ready to create the world’s biggest Raznici (grilled meat-and-vegetable skewers). The competition is going to be held at his farm in Olsany and is supposed to be connected also with the race of historical bicycles. Since the raznici recipes vary from a country to a country (Balkans for instance add tomatoes to raznici), each international piece of raznici will be divided by a little flag particular to the specific country. The event is scheduled for the end of July.The goal is to beat the current 10m-long raznici record and to be included into the Guinness Book of world records. Thanks to Polivka’s peculiar competitive events, the farm has become a very known place. In the past it was hosting contests such as “catching the flies”, “catching the shadows” or literally “throwing the gun into the hay” ( “hazeni flinty do zita” is a Czech expression and it means “to give up”. (more…)