I'll be going to Prague later this year during Christmas and this will be my first trip to Europe. I don't know very much as to what to expect other than some general etiquette guides from the internet. What I want to have though is something that talks about the functions of Czech culture and how that manifests itself in everyday life. In essence, I want to, as best as possible, understand and know Czech culture before I go there. I know that I can't get a perfect understanding just off of the internet (or by just being there for a couple weeks), but

Do you know of any resources about Czech culture that are more in depth and would help me get a better understanding?

  • I know Prague fairly well and I would classify the general culture as "Metropolitan Central European" with some eastern European influences. Because it's metropolitan most of the people you interact with will be urbane and sophisticated to the extent that cultural differences will not be a problem and you can pick up most of the etiquette and cues by observation. You can also safely extrapolate from any experience have have previously obtained in other metropolitan milieux..
    – Gayot Fow
    Nov 21 '16 at 3:18
  • 3
    Prague is a modern European city. There are barely any "Czech culture" influences in daily life.
    – JonathanReez
    Nov 21 '16 at 8:40
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    I has nothing to do with the question, just an advice: I've travelled a lot, seen many places, and I can swear Prague has been to now the only city I've felt bad for not having planned to stay a day more and not having booked a private touristic guide for a day; so if you go to Prague, take a guided tour. It's an astonishing city!
    – motoDrizzt
    Nov 21 '16 at 13:59
  • What exactly are you interested in? Nov 21 '16 at 18:38

Lonely Planet guidebooks provide a reasonable amount of background information about countries. If that's too expensive, try using Wikipedia to get general knowledge about a country, or maybe YouTube.

But to be honest, unless it affects your safety, don't worry too much about knowing everything. Otherwise you'll end up knowing more about the country than the people living there do, and besides a lot of information you read isn't really accurate - not necessarily false, but maybe outdated, exaggerated, or taken out of context.

  • Would you recommend spending more time trying to learn some of the language? Nov 21 '16 at 12:54
  • @MorellaAlmånd Depends on what you're wanting to do - it's very easy to do all the "tourist stuff" in Prague with only English and most educated younger people speak good English; if you're going beyond that at all, as usual, the more you learn the better. Nov 21 '16 at 13:36
  • @MorellaAlmånd always do it, not just for Prague! It will make a huge difference in any trip! And not as many people think because you need it to read signs and such (in any given touristic place everything will be translated in English) but because it will make locals feel you care and you respect them and their culture, and they will threat you much much better. You don't need to master the language, just being able to say good morning, thank you, please, bye...it will make a huge difference in the way you will be threated.
    – motoDrizzt
    Nov 21 '16 at 13:48
  • Good luck learning Czech in a few months. You will not get beyond real basics, and will likely be more confused than helped by knowing that little.
    – Willeke
    Nov 21 '16 at 16:33
  • My assumption is that English is ok when you're in a European country whose native language has few speakers, and the talk section of Wikivoyage's guide to the country seems to agree with that. en.m.wikivoyage.org/wiki/Czech_Republic Nov 21 '16 at 19:54

There's a series of books, "Xenophobe's Guide To [nationality]", that I find are a good combination of being short, funny, affectionately-written usually based on self-reflection by well-travelled cosmopolitan people from the country in question (the Czech one is written by three Czechs, for example), and quite well focused on the quirks and differences that are relevant to day-to-day interactions and socialising.

They're available as e-books if you don't have time to order a physical book.

They're good to get a broad-brush impression of how people from a country you know nothing about see themselves, and what those main stereotypes are that some (not all...!) locals are happy to admit have an element of truth to them.

Don't take them too seriously, though. They're good for an entertaining and interesting quick 30-minute read on a plane to add a touch of fun insight to a 2-week holiday, but don't expect anything like an authoritative tome where every detail is thoroughly checked and referenced! For example here's a useful review of the Czech guide by a native Czech guy:

As a born-and-bred Czech, I found the book quite informative and funny. I learned quite a few things and, and there are some fantastic insights.

However, I was surprised by how much information in the book is plain wrong... For example, Czechs attend dancing classes in the second year of high school, not the last, celebrating name days is not a bigger deal than celebrating birthdays, the word "robot" was coined not by Karel Čapek, but his brother Josef, the word "brk" is never used to mean "penis", and many others.

Generally, I recommend this book to native Czechs who want to gain a new perspective on their country. Also, foreigners living or thinking of living in the Czech Republic will certainly find the book useful... take such books with a grain of salt.

So, good for an interesting broad-brush impression and for fun conversation starters, but don't be surprised if some locals take issue with some of the details.

  • 1
    Prague is incredibly cold. Forget the "internet", "culture" etc and buy a balaclava.
    – Fattie
    Nov 21 '16 at 19:12

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