October 28th is Independence Day in Czech Republic and is more formally known as Independent Czechoslovak State Day. Even though Czech Republic became independent in 1992, ending the existence of “Czechoslovakia,” the day is still kept as the Czech National Day. In Slovakia, this is not the case and another Czech holiday, “Restoration of the Independent Czech State Day,” commemorates the “act of disunion” that occurred on January 1st, 1992.
Settled by Slavs (Czechs) in the 10th Century A.D., Bohemia and Moravia long had a distinct identity but were, nevertheless, normally ruled by foreign powers. The Hapsburg Austrio-Hungarian Empire controlled the region up until the end of World War I, but there were movements for greater Czech autonomy many years prior to the collapse of Austria-Hungary at the close of the war. Czech Republic was specifically part of Austria, while Slovakia was part of Hungary. The former was largely industrialized, while the latter was mostly agricultural. Yet, a movement for their union with each other as Czechoslovakia and their independence from Austria-Hungary was on the rise.
Czech exile Tomas Masaryk led an independence movement operating outside Austria-Hungary during World War I, and in 1916, began the Czechoslovak National Council. In January of 1918, the movement spread to the Czech homeland itself, and resistance forces began withholding food shipments to the war front that went to Austrian soldiers. Because much of Austria’s grain was produced in the region, it was a significant threat. Finally, on October 28, 1918, still two weeks before the war ended, independence was declared in Wenceslas Square in Prague, and a new nation emerged from the crumbling Austrio-Hungarian Empire.
October 28 later became the date of other important national events, like the student-led protests against the Nazi occupation in 1939, and it became associated with the Velvet Revolution of 1989 that led to the collapse of Communist rule. Thus, it has developed into a day of general Czech patriotism rather than a celebration only of independence from Austria-Hungary after World War I.
Should you be in Czech Republic on Czech Independence Day, some ideas on what to do include:
Aside from the official celebrations, Czech Independence Day is an ideal time to see Czech history firsthand and to learn as much as you can about Czech culture.
Reference source: https://publicholidays.cz/independence-day/
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