February 25th of 1948 - the day of the communist takeover in Czechoslovakia- is a day that those who lived through prefer to forget and the young generation usually has no idea what the date is linked to. But Czechs wouldn't be Czechs if they couldn't poke fun at everything - even the dark chapters of their history.
Every year on February 25th practical jokers in the town of Novy Jicin mark
the anniversary with a mock parade, poking fun of communist times and
communist symbols. Preparations for it have been underway for weeks and -
as every year - the organizers are keeping their plans top secret.
But it is clear that there will be plenty of Lenin and Stalin costumes and
models of nuclear weapons, hammers and sickles as well as uniforms of the
communist era worn by the dreaded secret police, border guards and members
of the communist youth movement. Real communist "parade"
artefacts are not hard to obtain - they are still lying around in many
Czech attics - little Soviet and Czechoslovak "friendship flags"
to wave during parades, red banners reading "friendship with the
Soviet Union forever" to which someone had added "and not a day
longer!" and huge pictures of communist leaders.
Many of those who join this parade of communist absurdity every year have
taken part in the "real thing" over and over again for fear of
reprisals should they refuse and they say that in a way it is huge relief
to be able to make fun of it all now.
As for the communist party - it claims that February 25th is a day like
any other. Although they have scheduled two balls on Friday evening - one
in Prague and one in Ostrava - the party spokeswoman has denied any
connection to the ill-fated anniversary. Only a small group of hardline
communists now turn up to mark the anniversary at the grave of the first
communist president Klement Gottwald. Their number dwindles every year -
this year only around seventy elderly people turned up, laid flowers, sung
the International and quietly dispersed.