05 July, Czech Republic and Slovakia: Saints Cyril and Methodius Day

The Saints Cyril and Methodius were Byzantine Greek brothers born in Thessalonica in the 9th century

They became missionaries of Christianity among the Slavic peoples and through their work they influenced the cultural development of all Slavs.

The two brothers are known as the “Apostles of the Slavs” and are still highly regarded by both Roman Catholic and Orthodox Christians.

Saints Cyril and Methodius Day is a holiday that is usually celebrated on July 5 in countries that observe Roman Catholic tradition. It commemorates the creation of the Slavic Glagolitic and Cyrillic alphabets as well as the introduction of literacy and the preaching of the gospels in the Slavonic language.

In the Czech lands and Slovakia the two brothers were originally commemorated on March 9, but Pope Pius IX changed this date to July 5.

Survived the split

Cyril and Methodius on Slovak korun, before the introduction of Euro.

Today Saints Cyril and Methodius Day is a national holiday in the Czech Republic and Slovakia. In the Czech Republic it is celebrated as Slavic Missionaries Cyril and Methodius Day (Czech: Den slovanských věrozvěstů Cyrila a Metoděje), and in Slovakia it is celebrated as St. Cyril and Metod Day (Slovak: Sviatok svätého Cyrila a Metoda).

Saints Cyril and Methodius Day was established as a national holiday by the Czechoslovak National Assembly in 1990 and has survived the split of Czechoslovakia in 1993.

Although Sts. Cyril and Methodius are venerated by Catholics across the continent as patrons of Europe, their celebration in the Czech Republic and Slovakia takes on a different dimension.

Due to the perceived continuity in history between medieval Greater Moravia (the short-lived West Slavic empire to which the missionaries journeyed) and the present-day Czech and Slovak states, the brothers have been subsumed under the national history of both the Czechs and Slovaks.

Published Aug. 24, 2010 11:55 AM - Last modified Aug. 24, 2010 2:47 PM