The Jewish holiday Chanukah begins on Wednesday evening. To celebrate the eight-day festival of light, the Prague Jewish community is holding a special event on the first evening at the Jerusalem Synagogue, which will include the reciting of blessings and the lighting of the first Chanukah candle by rabbi David Peter. Prague’s Chabad community will be lighting the traditional menorah with human-size candles on Jan Palach square on Sunday.
To mark the four hundred year anniversary of the publishing of the Kralice bible, the first to be published in the Czech language; an exhibition documenting the creation and history of the seminal literary work is taking place at the Prague’s Clementinum at the moment. More
Thousands of people are streaming to the Velehrad pilgrimage site to attend celebrations marking the 1150th anniversary of the arrival of Saints Cyril and Methodius to Great Moravia to spread the Christian faith and lay the foundations of literacy with the Glagolitic alphabet. A divine mass at the Velehrad basilica at midday Thursday was attended by high church dignataries, the papal legate, Cardinal Josip Bozanić of Zagreb, state dignitaries and foreign diplomats. The Days of People of Goodwill include a number of cultural events, a concert, exhibitions, lectures and conferences. Hundreds of officers are helping to direct traffic to the pilgrimage site.
The Czech Republic is the second most atheist country in the world, according to a new survey tracking international trends in faith. The WIN-Gallup International network of opinion pollsters found that the most ‘convinced atheists’ were in Japan, at 31%, followed by the Czech Republic at 30% and France at 29%. Compared with 2005, the poll recorded a nine-point drop in religiosity worldwide, or amongst the 57 countries surveyed. The greatest change was noted in Vietnam, where the communist government has, in recent years, variably tolerated and harassed different religious groups, and in traditionally Catholic Ireland, where only 47% said they were ‘religious’ - a 22-point drop from the 69% recorded seven years ago. The Czech Republic has long been rated the most non-religious country in Europe, followed by Estonia. Domestic polls from last year put the percentage of people with religious tendencies at roughly 35%.
A town surrounded by deep pine forests, dotted with old timbered German-style villas and occasional Communist-era prefab houses, a town boasting many parks, a river, two churches – and the country’s first Buddhist temple. This is Varnsdorf, a town of 16,000 in the northernmost part of the Czech Republic. More
Czechs and foreign nationals were able to visit traditional midnight masses on Christmas Eve at dozens of Catholic churches in the Czech capital. Some of the services were held in Italian, French and Vietnamese. Prague Archbishop Dominik Duka, primate of the Czech Catholic Church, celebrated midnight mass at St Vitus Cathedral at Prague Castle and Bishop Václav Malý, a former dissident, led the mass at St Wenceslas Church in the Smíchov district. In some churches, ‘midnight’ masses were in fact not held at 12 am but several hours earlier.
Over the past decade, Czech society has seen a number of interesting changes and trends, as shown by preliminary results of the 2011 population census which were released on Thursday. The figures show the country’s population grew a little, mainly due to migration. Czechs are also more educated than they used to be, and many more of them live alone. If people’s answers in the census are to be trusted, more people declared themselves to be Jedi knights than Romanies. More
Some 400 Muslims gathered in Brno on Tuesday to mark the end of the holy month of Ramadan with a joint prayer session. Due to the high number of participants, the event could not be held at the country’s oldest Islamic house of prayer and instead had to be moved to the city’s Hotel International. The leader of Brno’s Muslim community, Munib Hassan, said that since the late nineties, the number of people who are of Muslim faith in the country has increased significantly and that due to the growth of the community, a permanent solution for holding larger events needs to be found. He added that space in the old mosque is not just a problem during holidays, but also during the traditional Friday prayer sessions, which are visited by some 150 to 200 people every week. However, finding a location for a new house of prayer in the city has been met with opposition by local politicians.
Muslim leaders from the Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary and Slovakia came to Prague on Tuesday to share their experiences and to discuss the challenges faced by their communities. The numbers of the Muslim populations in their countries vary significantly, as do their historic backgrounds. But the debate showed that some challenges are shared by Muslims across the region: islamophobia, media bias, and severe legislative restrictions. More
This week sees an important holiday for a fifth of the world’s population, namely Buddhists, who will be marking the anniversary of the birth, enlightenment and death of the Buddha on May 17. Some in the Czech Republic will be celebrating the day as well, and that will be thanks to a large part to Bhante Wimala, a Sri Lankan monk based in the United States who started the Czech Republic’s first two Buddhist centres, the Samadhi Meditation Centre near Mělník and the Lotus Centre in Prague. In Today’s One on One Christian Falvey speaks with Bhante Wimala about his work in the Czech Republic and the messages of Buddhism. More