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EVENTS

1 Jan - New Year's Day
24 Dec - Generous Day (Christmas Eve)
17 Nov - Struggle for Freedom and Democracy Day
8 May - Liberation Day
1 May - Labour Day
5 Jul - SS Cyril & Methodius Day
28 Oct - Independence Day
28 Sep - Czech Statehood Day
26 Dec - St Stephen's Day
25 Dec - Christmas Day
6 Jul - Jan Hus Day
Mar/Apr - Easter Monday

The year begins with a festive New Year's Eve celebration, followed by holidays like Three King's Day (January 6) and the anniversary of Jan Palach's death (January 19), which honors the memory of a Charles University student who burned himself to death in protest of the 1969 Soviet occupation.

Easter Monday, which falls in either March or April, is a classic rite of spring: Czech men of all ages swat at their favorite women with willow swatches, while the ladies respond with gifts of hand painted eggs, after which everyone parties.

Labor Day (May 1) is a communist leftover that coincides with the much older Majales, a spring festival dating back at least two centuries. Majales was banned by Nazis and communists, revived during the 'Prague Spring,' subsequently squelched by Soviets and reincarnated in 1997. Majales' bands, dancers, floats, costumes, beer and sausage have since returned with a vengeance.

Liberation Day was celebrated May 9 (the day in 1945 that the Red Army marched into Prague) under the communist government, but in recent years you've had to get there by May 8 (the day Prague liberated itself) to enjoy the festivities.

Other holidays include Saints Cyril and Methodius Day (July 5), celebrating the Slav's introduction to Christianity; Jan Hus Day (July 6), commemorating the fiery execution of the great Bohemian religious reformer; Czech Statehood Day (September 28); Independence Day (October 28); Struggle for Freedom and Democracy Day (November 17); and Christmas festivities (December 24-26).

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