First annual 'Festival of Czech Culture Abroad' opens at Senate Hall

05-11-2007

Representatives of Czech communities from all over the world are gathering in Prague this week for a new festival celebrating Czech culture outside the Czech Republic. The first annual folklore festival for krajane, or Czechs living abroad, has the support of members of the Senate, where the festival had its inaugural ceremony on Monday. The highlights of the festival include an exhibit of traditional handicrafts, projections of documentary films concerning Czech culture outside the Czech Republic, as well as presentations of traditional folk singing and dance.

Over 300 people are taking part in this festival. They come mainly from central and Eastern Europe, but there is even a delegation from the US. Many have ancestors who left the Czech Republic at the beginning of the last century to start new lives, but passed on their culture to their children, teaching them the Czech language and reading them Czech fairy tales. Judging by the number of people attending the festival, and by their enthusiasm, this culture continues to be an important part of their lives. Natalia Lifimova is from the Ukraine, and studies in Brno.

"I come from a Czech family and this festival is very important, because I came here from Zhitomir, from Ukraine and in my family Czech traditions and Czech culture are very important. That is why we are here, to show these old traditions which were raised in my family from my grandmother from my mother, and to show to Czech people that Czech culture is not important just in Czech Republic, but also in Ukraine and in other countries where Czechs live."

The presentations of singing and dance will take place mainly at the Salesianske theatre in Kobylisy, but there will also be tours of Prague's many sites provided for the delegates. For many, this is their first visit to Prague or the Czech Republic. Josef Seidert is leading a delegation from a Czech community in Romania.

"We come from Romania and we are a small ensemble of Czechs. We are called Slavicek, it's a bird in the Czech language, and we are going to present a programme regarding our customs and habits in Rumania that we have still from our ancestors, from Czechs that came from here. They came in 1824 or 1825 thereabouts, and we are already the 7th generation after them, and we are trying to keep the customs that we learned from them. We are very thankful and grateful for this unique opportunity. This is the first time we are coming to Prague to a Czech festival, and we hope that you will enjoy the show that we will provide you with tomorrow."

You can find more information on the festival's website: www.krajanskyfestival.cz

Photo: Martina Stejskalova

05-11-2007