Like every other country, the Czech Republic has certain cultural aspects considered traditional and local. The truth is: many of these misconceptions are irrelevant to the culture of Czechs, mostly being brought up by foreigners and even occasional tour guides.
Oh, we all heard this one! Shops that sell trdelníks can be found all over Prague – fun airy buns with tasty fillings quickly earned their fame among the foreigners. Trdelník is often being presented as a Czech national pastry, especially popular during Christmas time. Unfortunately, that’s all a lie – this delightful dessert originates in Slovakia. Its production started in Skalica, and has a long tradition: the word ‘trdelník’ comes from the other word ‘trdlo,’ which means ‘a wooden tool used to pound materials in a hollowed-out log.’ In 2007, trdelník was registered as a protected geographical indication (PGI) in the European Union countries. Sad? Maybe! But don’t let that stop you from trying the pastry – it’s still yummy!
Beer? Yes, please!
Have you heard that Czechs drink beer everywhere they go and prefer it to water – maybe because beer is cheaper? Of course, that is total nonsense. Even though the Czech Republic fairly earned first place in beer consumption per capita, many Czechs prefer other alcohol types. For instance, vodka, cocktails or a variety of Moravian wines. Without any doubt, Czechs love their beer, and they are proud of it, but it is not for everyone.
Cannabis is legal
Another popular thing that is considered to be true is that cannabis is a legal drug in the Czech Republic. Some people started to refer to Prague as the New Amsterdam, the new capital of the weed industry, and that is just absurd! According to the country’s laws, having more than 10 grams on you is considered a crime, and you can face actual criminal charges unlike having a small fine. There are certain places (cafes, bars, clubs) where you can buy products containing cannabis, but that is still illegal. Selling any product with more than 0.3% THC is against the law.
Cute little dolls that look like they must represent cultural aspects of the Czech Republic. Right? Wrong! Matryoshka dolls do not originate in the Czech Republic – they are typical Russian souvenirs. The shops are also selling fur hats, which are (as you might have guessed) Russian as well. According to the Honest Guide, these dolls’ popularity increased during Soviet times, and some echoes of the Soviet culture still remain. There are locals who consider them to be painful reminders of the Soviet regime, so you might not want to bring up your admiration of “traditional” Czech dolls here!
Foreigners are not welcome
There is, unfortunately, a popular misconception that Czechs do not like foreigners and tourists. In fact, in most cities, especially in the big ones, such as Brno and Prague, it is the other way around – locals are more than happy to meet expats. A great number of Erasmus students come to study in Prague, and numerous international companies are opening positions to foreign nationals. Once the epidemeological situation allows for it, visit the Czech Republic and don’t worry – you’ll be more than welcome!