29 September, the Czech Republic: Day of Statehood and Commemoration of St. Wenceclas

This religious-cum-political red-letter day recieved its status as national holiday as recent as 2000. However, St. Wenceslas has long occupied an important place in the self-consciousness of the Czech people.

Though historically perhaps the least significant of the Czech rulers bearing that name, St. Wenceslas' martyrdom by the sword of his brother in the year 929, combined with the pragmatic need of a legend to cement Czech statehood and promote its Catholic character, led to the construction of him as a symbol of the Czech state.

St. Wenceslas Square in Prague has also been the symbolic centre of several of the most dramatic events of modern Czech history, among them the proclamation of Czechoslovak independence in 1918, demonstrations against the Soviet-led invasion in 1968, and pro-democratic public gatherings in 1989.

 

Published Aug. 24, 2010 11:00 AM - Last modified Aug. 24, 2010 2:45 PM