A public poll launched by the Foreign Ministry will allow voters to choose between five significant dates in the history of Czechs’ relations with the outside world, for a new day celebrating Czechs abroad and their contributions, which aims to foster closer ties between Czech emigrés and their homeland. Photo credit: Pixabay / For illustrative purposes.

Czech Rep., Jul 9 (BD) – The Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs has announced plans for a new “Czechs Abroad Day”, and is asking the public to help choose the date.

The poll gives voters five options for the proposed commemoration day:

  • February 4th: The date that the iconic, highly-influential Czech educational reformer Jan Amos Komensky left the Czech Lands in 1628. Komensky was a key adviser to governments across Protestant Europe in the 17th century, and is often described as the father of modern education.
  • March 7th: The birthday, in 1850, T.G. Masaryk, founding President of Czechoslovakia. The first Masaryk Day of Czechs and Slovaks Abroad was celebrated in 1934, on the President’s initiative, to highlight the crucial role of Czechs abroad in the creation of an independent Czechoslovakia.
  • April 17th: The birthday, in 1826, of Vojtech Naprstek, a journalist and one of the key figures of the early Czech-American diaspora, considered to be the “first consul” of Czechs abroad. 
  • July 1st: The first congress of Czechs and Slovaks abroad took place on this date in 1932, and the date has been a symbolic date for further such meetings since.
  • December 23rd: On this day in 1989, in the days following the Velvet Revolution, German foreign minister Hans Dietrich Genscher and his Czech counterpart Jiri Dienstbier cut through the barbed wire at the Czech-German border at Rozvadov, in a symbolic end to the Cold War separation of the two nations.

The current favourite is the December date, which represents the reopening of travel for Czech citizens.

The plan aims to highlight the contributions of Czech living abroad, both historically and in the present day, and create closer links between Czech expats and their homeland. Almost 1.5 million residents of the USA have Czech roots, and there are also significant Czech communities of over 100,000 in Canada, the UK and Austria. Famous international names with Czech heritage include: singer Jason Mraz; personalities from the world of film including Ashton Kutcher and Jim Jarmusch; Ray Kroc, the founder of McDonalds; and two of Donald Trump’s children, Ivanka and Donald Jr.

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