GENERAL

The lifestyle of the average Czech is based on individual needs. The choice of lifestyle is influenced by the family, their traditions, but also the financial level. New trends and modernity play a significant role for young people. Parents are usually tolerant of choosing the style of their offspring.

Among the factors most damaging to the health of Czechs are smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, poor nutrition, low physical activity, drug abuse and excessive psychological stress.

According to the data of the State Health Institute, the Czech population in Europe is at the forefront of these risk factors for the emergence of chronic diseases – smoking is in third place, drinking alcohol first and obesity in second to fourth place. As a result, the average Czech citizen’s expectancy according to the CZSO is 78.9 years.

Data on morbidity show an increase in heart and blood vessel diseases or cancer. Mortality decreases only at the expense of the huge costs of treatment that is high in the Czech Republic.

The reason is that the population born in the second half of the 20th century was affected by the tremendous technical progress that fundamentally changed their lifestyle. A lot of housework has been replaced by technologies, the number of jobs in offices with PCs has increased. After the revolution, people have had great opportunities in all areas of social life, traveling, business, education, food availability, new goods of all kinds, etc. Throughout society, the era of consumption has started, and continues to these days.

The style of today’s times has become comfortable on one side, but on the other, it brings acceleration of pace, stress, limitation of original life assurance, e.g. employment. Long-term stress is one of the most serious factors that threaten health. The very frequent consequences of long-term stress are burnout syndrome.

The Czech Republic does not passively promote healthy lifestyles. New preventative programs, smoking ban in restaurants and public spaces were approved. Throughout the school system, healthy lifestyle is included in the curriculum.

There is not even a particularly negative atmosphere to alternative lifestyles – ways of living different from traditional ones. They have different opinions on health, fashion, music, worldview, housing, etc. (vegetarians, macrobiotics, alternative medicine followers…).

 

EDUCATION

The education system in the Czech Republic is primarily based on the Education Act and the Higher Education Act.

Education is provided by public schools (formerly the state, now established by the county), which are the majority, and are free for pupils and students. The smaller share of schools is ecclesiastical and private, they set charges of 3-10 thousand crowns a month per pupil or student. Their numbers are showing an increasing tendency and are regulated by the Ministry of Education.

In colleges, students can undergo free studies for up to 26 years of age, then they have to pay health insurance, which was previously paid by the state, and tuition fees (not high in the Czech Republic).

Individual levels of education in the Czech Republic:

Pre-primary education is implemented in children from the age of 6 months to the beginning of schooling. It is provided by state, private and ecclesiastical institutions, the payment is around CZK 1000 (40 E) per month. It includes all-day food and child care. The children up to 3 years of age visit a crèche. From the two years of the child’s age until the child is admitted to primary school, it is possible to place the child in a kindergarten. Pre-primary education is voluntary, except in the last year before the start of compulsory schooling when the parent is obliged to register a child in pre-school education.

In the Czech Republic there is a lack of facilities that provide pre-school education, often the parent cannot take up employment because they have not been able to place their child in pre-school facilities.

Primary education is provided by a network of elementary schools for children between the ages of 6 and 15. The basic nine-year attendance is compulsory in CR.

Secondary education is for the age group 15-18 years. It usually lasts three or four years.

Secondary education is provided in the Czech Republic as a vocational education, after which the graduates are ready for the work process in the given field. Graduates may continue to study.

The lower level of such education – apprenticeship courses are completed by a certificate (most often in the fields of gastronomy, hotel industry, engineering and construction).

The upper secondary schools are graduated with “maturita” exam, which entitles them to further education at tertiary level (economics, electronics, telecommunication and computer technology, engineering and health).

Another option is to choose general secondary education (gymnasium – grammar school, lyceum), which aims to prepare students for studying at colleges and universities. The study is completed by “maturita” exam. The specific is the “eight-year gymnasium” – a type of grammar school, which can be taken up during elementary school (after 5th or 7th grade of elementary education). They are considered the most demanding.

Tertiary education enables graduates to further increase their qualifications in a variety of specializations by studying at conservatories, higher vocational schools or universities.

Higher education is implemented in three levels: bachelor, master and doctoral study programs.

At present, the most popular branches of study at colleges and universities are business, administration and law, medicine, engineering, construction, non-medical health care (pharmacy, nursing, midwifery).

Secondary and tertiary education is possible in most fields, apart from a daily form, in a distance form, which combines consultations, e-learning and self-study.

 

PEOPLE´S APPEARANCE

Europeans, including Czechs, belong to Europoid race. Physically, its features are bright skin colour; a narrow, often protruding nose; a narrow or medium-wide face with relatively narrow lips; well-developed hair, which includes slightly wavy hair of various shades, able to grow to a considerable length. Men can have a beard.

The men grow on an average height of 180cm. The type of figure is varied and very dependent on age, lifestyle and type of sports activities they run. This is true for women as well. The average women´s height is 167cm.

The Czech Republic belongs to countries with more obese people, ie. 19.3% of adults, compared to the EU average of 15.9%.

People´s appearance depends on fashion, lifestyle, value system, economic possibilities, and personality.

In general, men tend to have hair and beards cut short, while women may prefer longer haircuts. These are their pride, they do not cover them. Women tend to hide grey hair in colouring. More and more emphasis is placed in hygiene, cosmetics, nail care, antiperspirants, and treatment of hairy parts of the body. Make-up is a matter of course for most Czech women. Both men and women like to be decorated with tattoos which become a great fashion.

Jewellery is also used to decorate the body, sometimes gold, silver or steel. Almost half of Czechs wear glasses that are perceived as the decoration too.

Even with Czechs, the popularity of plastic operations of all kinds increases.

 

SPECIFICS OF COMMUNICATION

For the Czechs there is a typical communication with a high share of non-verbal messages, the importance of which the partner has to draw from the context. It is assumed that the interaction participant knows the overall context and takes them into account. It is necessary to understand the meaning of communication.

In non-verbal communication, the Czechs prefer a more reserved approach, and not too impulsive gesture. It is publicly unfair to point at someone by finger, spit on the floor, rip or pull the sleeve of someone we want to talk with. It is also not appropriate to interrupt someone. Czechs are not a contact culture, so touching during a social conversation is not common here. The average personal area is one meter. The unwelcome elements in communication are: chewing gum (cigarette) in the mouth, hands in pockets, or scrupulous behaviour. Czechs prefer a positive atmosphere and a non-conflictual environment. They are not proficient in communicating negative information, so they may avoid confrontation. They do not like to be late for meetings – minor delays occur normally, but a delay of more than 15 minutes is considered to be rude. Generally, they do not show their self-confidence.

The basis of verbal communication is Czech language. It belongs among Slavic languages and comes from Old Slavic. It began during the 9th century. In the 19th century at the time of the national revival, it has been transformed into modern language. It is characterized by a richly developed flexion. One word exists in a variety of other forms (due to suffixes) depending on what grammatical or syntactic function they express. For foreigners it is one of the most difficult languages ​​in Europe to learn.

As for the ability of Czechs to communicate with other languages, the situation is worse than in other Western European countries. Almost one third of Czechs do not speak any foreign language. Most people speak Slovak. 27% of people can communicate in English, 15% German and 13% Russian. Simple written texts in a foreign language can be understood by almost three quarters of Czechs. But when it comes to active communication, the situation is noticeably worse. They are afraid of making mistakes, or they are ashamed of the poor pronunciation that is often underestimated in teaching, especially in the school system. The problem is also poor vocabulary, especially in the field of professional language, as well as a lack of grammar.

 

ETIQUETTE

In the Czech Republic, behavior and communication are the basis of society.

To understand the rules, it is needed to clarify who is a socially significant person, who has the right to determine the development of the social relationship. Among people of the same sex, it is the older person (with no difference in ten years). A woman is a more significant person than a man (not even a thirty years difference means that a man will get the advantage). In a work environment, it is a superior person, regardless of age or gender.

So, for a summary, a significant person is a woman, an elderly person, and a senior person in the working environment.

In greetings, less significant person greets socially more significant person. There is a rule in the Czech Republic: “Greeting is grace, but answer is duty.” Besides verbal greetings, people can shake right hands or kiss each other on cheeks. The hands are not crossed and everything is accompanied by a slight bow of the head forward. Eye contact should be straightforward. People use formal „good morning / afternoon / evening“, or informal „hello“…

For Czech language, two forms of addressing are typical: „tykání“ – 2nd person of singular in an informal surroundings (children, friends, relatives), and „vykání“ – 2nd person of plural in a formal surroundings.

Introducing people has similar rules. We introduce a person socially less significant to a socially more significant person, ie. a man to a woman, younger person to older one.

We also introduce the person with an academic title or function. If we introduce ourselves, it is good to use this formula: “Good evening … let me introduce myself, my name is …”

Clothes is important too. Dress code is generally accepted.There are some rules that determine what can be worn at work, at the office, at business meetings or social events. Women can wear both skirts and trousers to work. Most companies and banks, however, do not allow wearing jeans at work. Since the nineties, the skirts of almost all lengths are worn. The correct length of the skirt depends more on the social occasion. We choose bright, pastel colours for normal, daytime wear, and darker (blue, black) for the evening. Women use the so-called little black, evening dress with the length below the knees. The long evening gown is suited for balls and important social events.

Men in the office, for business meetings or lunch with a client wear a suit, and any colour of shirts with a tie. For evening or more festive events, a dark suit with black shoes and black socks are worn. Sometimes it will work with a vest. For the most glamorous occasions is a white shirt with a bowtie. Less formal is a suit without a tie.

There are some rules at a dining table. If there are more courses, the cutlery is taken gradually towards the plate. At the table, we sit upright, hands are leaning against the edge of the table above the wrist. We never put a knife to mouth, we only use it to slicing. We do not sip, we do not talk with our mouths full. We put a  cloth napkin on our lap. Before drinking, we wipe our mouth with a paper napkin. We put the paper napkin on the plate after finishing the meal (the cloth napkin is placed on the right of the plate). At the end of the meal, we put the cutlery on the plate parallely. Sitting places back to the wall with a view into the area belong to more significant persons. A prominent person is sitting on the right.

In the cinema and in the theater we turn off the cell phones. We go to the cinema and the theater in time so we do not bother other audiences. If we sit in the middle, we always come to the front of the seat. If we eat food in the cinema, we do so quietly. At the end of the theater performance, we applaud. In the cinema we wait until the final headlines finish. A woman usually sits on the right hand of a man.

If we take a bus, a train, a tram or a trolleybus, we keep some rules too. At first people get off, after they get on. We do not stay at the entrance to prevent other passengers from entering. If we use food in the means of transport, we do not choose one that has a distinct smell. We do not throw away the waste from the windows. We take the luggage carefully so we do not hit anyone. If a bus is crowded, we provide a sitting place to older people, sick, women, pregnant women or young children. If we want to open the window, the first we ask passengers. On the train when entering the coupe, we greet and ask if there is a vacancy. When entering the car, the man opens the door to the woman.

 

The biggest weaknesses of Czechs:

They sometimes do not behave well at the table – compared to other peoples who have dining as a social event and like to eat slowly, Czechs prefer to eat fast. Some of them even use a laptop or a mobile during the meal.

Mobile arrogance – Czechs do not turn off their phones in places where they should do that: in a cinema and theater, at a table, in a shop, at school, or even in the means of transport.

The rules of a man behavior towards a woman – the younger generation is able to meet and communicate on the Internet, but has a considerable margin of behavior in the company. Some young men often do not know how to behave in a good restaurant or at a meeting (they should open the door to a woman, should help with a heavy bag, should help with putting her coat on…).

 

FOOD

The Czech Republic is an inland country with a cooler climate, so also the basis of its gastronomy was always the local food, especially grain, potatoes and meat. Nowadays, thanks to globalization, other kinds of food is imported.

The Czech menu usually consists of two or more courses – the first is traditionally a soup. Typical Czech soups are beef with noodles or liver dumplings, sour cream soup with mushrooms, potato, goulash or cabbage soup.

The main course usually consists of some meat with side dishes. The most commonly used meat is pork, beef, chicken, sometimes fish or rabbit.

Czechs eat freshwater fish (traditional carp at Christmas) or sea fish but only 6.2 kg per person a year, that means 2x less than other Europeans.

The consumption of fruit, which Czechs eat about 90 kilograms per person a year, is growing. They like apples, oranges, bananas and other southern fruits.

Traditional dishes are pork schnitzel (fried pork fillet wrapped in flour, eggs and breadcrumbs), pork with dumplings and cabbage, roast pork, goulash or fried carp.

Pork schnitzel Goulash Pork with dumplings and cabbage

Specialities of Czech cuisine include sauces and dumplings. Sauces usually contain vegetable base, cream, butter and flour. There are many kinds of dumplings, e.g. bread, potato or fruit. Many types of cakes and pastries that are popular in Central Europe come from Czech cuisine.

 
Dumplings  Fruit dumplings Dumplings stuffed with smoked meat and cabbage

  

 From the delicatessen we can mention sandwiches, various salads, ripened cheese (Olomouc cheese) or Prague ham.

Czech beer is world-famous and has a long tradition. The Czechs consider it a national drink. The most famous are Pilsner Urquell and Budweiser Budvar. The Czechs are the world’s largest beer drinkers = 151 liters of beer per person a year.

In the Czech Republic are also many vineyards, especially in South Moravia. Czech winemakers produce about 550 000 hectolitres of wine a year. The quality of Moravian white wines is at the top of the world, as evidenced by a number of significant international awards. An interesting area of ​​this region are the small villages of wine cellars.

The favourite Czech souvenir is, in addition to wine, the bittersweet herbal liqueur Becherovka, which comes from the spa town of Karlovy Vary.

Diet, its quality and balance are also an essential part of lifestyle.

Positive for the Czech Republic is the trend in reducing the consumption of fats, pork and beef meat and eggs. However, there is still a great popularity of fried meals and sweet drinks. There is smaller share of fruit and vegetables in the diet compared to other Europeans. The younger generation, in particular, like to eat in fast food restaurants.

There are some connections, for example the higher education, the healthier diet people have. Also, the lack of funding for socially disadvantaged groups leads in some cases to consuming a cheaper but less quality diet.

 

PEOPLE´S MENTALITY

The Czech temperament is very diverse, but it is possible to summarize the basic character features. Czechs always were a small nation. Except for a few short periods, the Czech nation was always part of larger units that were ruled by someone else. The liberation came 17.11.1989 (Velvet Revolution – national holiday). With the beginning of democracy and freedom, however, there is also greater responsibility for themselves. All historical events have had a significant influence of the development of the character of the Czechs.

Czechs are considered to be typical Central Europeans. They are proud to be members of the nation and Czech history. In addition, they are also proud of Czech personalities from the field of art, literature, sports, science and technology.

Flexibility, ingenuity, adaptability, are the qualities that the Czechs are proud of. For Czechs, there is a typical mistrust of almost everything they do not know.

The Czechs are able to do a lot of things in parallel and change the ranking of priorities according to the current importance and with confidence in their improvisation skills.

Czechs often tend not to keep general rules, it is common to think about how to bypass the law.

The friendship is important for the Czechs, they place emphasis on specific human relationships, as well as on the good feeling that results from them.

The Czechs are characterized as a nation for which direct confrontation and talking about their own problems is unpleasant. They prefer to avoid conflicts. Even if there is a situation where there may be a conflict, they will rather not solve it. When the conflict is inevitable, it can take place in silence, or it can be loud and can lead to the end of the relationship. There are very few Czechs who have reasonable self-confidence.

 

SPORT, LEISURE

Working hours in the Czech Republic are set at 8 hours a day, 5 days a week. As for free time, Czechs have about 6.5 hours a day, the most at the weekends.

The most popular activities that Czechs spend on average 2 hours per day include watching TV, using PCs and other media, following various sports activities and reading. About one hour a day is spent with family or friends, strolling and walking dogs. 90% of Czechs are devoted to individual hobbies. The younger generation has recently returned to spending leisure time in more traditional ways like growing crops or creative activities.

Younger people under the age of thirty often listen to music, watch various videos on the internet, go to concerts, cinemas and restaurants. They do sports or spend more time by increasing their professional and language skills.

There is still the popularity of shopping and spending time in shopping centres.

Women more often than men read magazines and books, go to theatres, exhibitions and public libraries or attend classical music concerts. On the contrary, men spend more time on hobbies and sports.

 About 60% of Czechs do not travel abroad on summer holidays for financial and security reasons. Very popular in the summer is cycling and hiking. Outside of the republic are popular stays at the sea (mostly Croatia, Italy, Bulgaria, Egypt, Turkey) for which families do not want to spend more than about 1000 euros. In winter, they like skiing holiday, but only richer families can afford it, thanks to the high cost of ski equipment, ski passes and accommodation.

 

Resources:

1/ Křížková, Alena (ed.), Radka Dudová, Hana Hašková, Hana Maříková. 2005. Kombinace pracovního a rodinného života v ČR: politiky, čas, peníze a individuální, rodinné a firemní strategie. Sociologické studie / Sociological Studies 05:04. Praha: Sociologický ústav AV ČR.

2/ MACHOVÁ, Jitka a Dagmar KUBÁTOVÁ. Výchova ke zdraví. 2., aktualizované vydání. Praha: Grada, 2015. Pedagogika (Grada).

3/ NOVÝ, Ivan a Sylvia SCHROLL-MACHL. Interkulturní komunikace v řízení a podnikání: česko-německá. Vyd. 1. Praha: Management Press, 2007.

4/ NOVÝ, Ivan. Interkulturální management: lidé, kultura a management. Praha: Grada, 1996.

5/ ŠPAČEK, Ladislav. Etiketa – Moderní etiketa pro každého. Praha:  Mladá fronta 2017.

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8/ Mentality. Available from:https://cs.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lidská_rasa   (2018-02-14)

9/ People. Available from: https://www.czso.cz/csu/czso/evropane_a_jejich_jazykove_znalosti  (2018-02-14)

10/ Comunication. Available from: https://cs.wikipedia.org/wiki/Čeština   (2018-02-14)

11/ Food. Available from:https://cs.wikipedia.org/wiki/Česká_kuchyně   (2018-02-14)

12/ People. Available from: www.csu.cz   (2018-02-14)

13/ People. Available from: http://www.promenyceskespolecnosti.cz/aktuality/aktualita22/Jak_Cesi_travi_cas_TK_20-06-2016.pdf.   (2018-02-14)

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