27-12-2003

Looking for a Superstar! Thousands of young Czechs are lining up to show that they have what it takes. The Czech who's been making the same resolution for 13 years now and is still determined to see it through. And, traditional New Years greetings cards are replaced by SMS messages. Find out more in this weeks Magazine with Daniela Lazarova.

The Christmas holidays are a good time for play. Who will produce the biggest or best looking nativity scene, the biggest Christmas cake or sparkler? This year the biggest live nativity scene could be admired in the town of Osek where 203 children took part in it. The biggest ever Christmas sparkler produced in the Czech Republic went unchallenged this year - it was 25 cm long, 1.4 cm thick and sparkled for 17 minutes 48 seconds. The biggest Christmas cake / you can find a recipe for that on Radio Prague's Christmas web pages / weighed 70 kilograms and was four and a half metres long. And the biggest paper chain was 10. 646 metres long -the work of over 2,000 children.

Photo: CTKPhoto: CTK Superstar fever has gripped the Czech Republic. Similarly as in neighbouring Poland and Germany the television contest Looking for a Superstar has brought thousands of young people a step closer to their dream.

Over 3,000 people have applied to attend the castings organized by private TV Nova in Prague Brno and Ostrava. By the hundreds they brave the cold weather, waiting in line for hours with just a few minutes in which to convince the jury that they have what it takes. Over 3,000 young people between 16 and 28 years of age will compete in the first rounds from which the jury will pick 100 of the best. Only 40 will make it to the semi-finals and they will be granted an appearance on TV. It will then be up to the public to pick the winner - the future superstar. The voting is to take place by mobile phone. The winner will get to sign a contract with a music agency, a contract with TV Nova and the kind of build up that will send them on their way to stardom.

Josef Muzik, photo: CTKJosef Muzik, photo: CTK People tend to greet the New Year with all kinds of resolutions and Czechs are no exception. I will quit smoking, lose weight, eat healthier and so on and so on.

One Czech however has been repeating the same resolution for 13 years now: I'll find the Stechovice buried treasure. This year I really will. This resolution has become a sort of mantra to 55 year old Josef Muzik who has already spent 13 million crowns trying to unearth it. The Stechovice treasure relates to the Second World War -when the Nazis are believed to have buried gold and precious objects stolen from the Jews as well as secret documents about military research. Muzik says he has documents and eyewitness accounts that suggest the treasure is buried in three separate places in the vicinity of Stechovice and that there are 964 boxes altogether. Next year - he says - he really will find it!

While the vast majority of Czechs spend their Christmas holidays at home with the family an increasing number of people like to greet the New Year abroad. This year approximately 30 thousand Czechs will fly to Milan, Venice, London or Paris for a quick end of the year holiday. Meanwhile, approximately 60 thousand foreigners will come to the Czech Republic - either to Prague or one of the country's ski resorts - for the end of year celebrations.

The town of Miroslav near Znojmo recently hosted the seventh annual Goulash Olympics. Goulash is a very popular dish in the Czech Republic and people don't need to be asked twice to show off their cooking skills or to just come and eat their fill. The participants at this year's Goulash Olympics - approximately 400 people -consumed 200 litres of goulash in the course of one evening. Some of the dishes were so hot that people who tasted them had difficulty distinguishing anything else they tasted for the rest of the evening. But old timers knew better. You leave things like the famous Razor Brew until last, and never sit down to one without a pint of cold beer, one of them said. The evening included a fashion show, with the proceeds going to charity.

One thing that has changed dramatically in recent years is the number of Christmas cards and New Years' greetings that people send. Once post offices laboured under the strain -now in the vast majority of cases people send each other electronic cards or SMS messages. Last year Czechs sent each other 47 million SMS Christmas greetings and another 38 million New Years greetings.

Photo: CTKPhoto: CTK The entrance hall to the Museum metro station houses an unusual exhibition of framed graffiti art. The idea and funds came from a soft drinks producer who announced a competition for the best graffiti label. Some three hundred graffiti artists sent in their work and the best will be exhibited until the end of December in the entrance hall of the Museum metro station. Town hall officials, who annually spend millions of crowns cleaning up graffiti art, say they would welcome more of these exhibitions and suggest that graffiti should also find its way into art galleries - anyplace but where it is now.

A survey in which Czech primary school children were asked to name their favourite politician is sure to please President Vaclav Klaus. He emerged as the single most popular politician among ten year olds. However a government put together by these kids would be bizarre indeed - Mr. Klaus would be flanked by the former president Vaclav Havel, the current Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla and the former head of government Milos Zeman - all men who have scant liking for one another and who do not like to play second fiddle.

The request to name some politicians currently in office produced some very funny answers among seven year olds, among those named was the country's most famous jailbird Jiri Kajinek, who is now residing in a top security prison.

Asked what they don't like about politicians the kids said: they argue too much and never listen to what the others are saying and they only think about themselves. And who would best replace them in government: 90 percent of seven year olds said mom and dad would do much better.

27-12-2003