The twilit May, the time of love

Sunday, May 4, 2014

The Czechs do May 1 right - a day devoted to love.
Not fat bouquets of roses
Not Tiffany baubles
Not four-course candlelit dinners
But simple and utter LOVE.

The thing in Prague to do is climb Petřín Hill and kiss your crush under a blossoming tree. So we joined the stream of people heading that way. 

Cherry blossoms were elusive this year, but all of the adorable sidewalk chalkings made up for it.

Technically, the Czech calendar says May 1 is Labor Day (Svátek práce), not Love Day, but celebrating romance has long been a tradition, thanks to a famous 19th century poem by the writer Mácha:

Karel Hynek Mácha: Máj (May)
Beginning verses, translation by Edith Pargeter

Byl pozdní večer - první máj -
večerní máj - byl lásky čas.
Hrdliččin zval ku lásce hlas,
kde borový zaváněl háj.
O lásce šeptal tichý mech;
květoucí strom lhal lásky žel,
svou lásku slavík růži pěl,
růžinu jevil vonný vzdech.
Jezero hladké v křovích stinných
zvučelo temně tajný bol,
břeh objímal je kol a kol;
a slunce jasná světů jiných
bloudila blankytnými pásky,
planoucí tam co slzy lásky.
Late evening, on the first of May -
The twilit May - the time of love.
Meltingly called the turtle-dove,
Where rich and sweet pinewoods lay.
Whispered of love the mosses trail,
The flowering tree as sweetly lied,
The rose's fragrant sigh replied
To love-songs of the nightingale.
In shadowy woods the burnished lake
Darkly complained a secret pain,
By circling shores embraced again;
And heaven's clear sun leaned down to take
A road astray in azure deeps,
Like burning tears the lover weeps.

The interwebs also claim that under Communism, on May 1 Czechs were forced to go to Letna Park for a Labor Day gathering and wave Soviet flags, feigning enthusiasm. No wonder people prefer to abandon that holiday ideology for blossoms and kisses.

BW and I grabbed a very Czech lunch - chlebíčky and cake - right at the bottom of the hill, in a spot called U Knoflicku. Chlebíčky is basically cross-sectioned baguette slices spread with butter or a mayonnaise-based salad and topped with goodies like deli meat, pickles, hardboiled eggs, cheese wedges, vegetables, etc. 

And the cake... oh, the cake... I have marzipan-covered dreams about it! Some of the best dessert we've had in Prague. BW almost had a second piece but his shirt buttons were stretching.

Stuffing your face in front of a person who adores you unconditionally - now that's love.


  1. Oh dear god, that sandwich looks amazing! What a cute idea for a love holiday. The chalk drawings were really neat. Oh and that park. So gorgeous. I want to live in Prague!

    1. Thanks, Marina! Have you visited Prague? I probably post the pretty stuff but not some of the grimier aspects of the city :) Still, it's a very lovely place!

    2. I haven't, but I was going to move there for a few months in September until the school I worked at in Korea shut down and I had to spend what little savings I had and suddenly find a new job.

      I was planning on doing the CELTA and staying in Prague to look for jobs there & in other countries. I'm still dreaming of living in new places, but since the change of circumstances I'm taking it slowly and seeing what my options are.

    3. Yikes - what a rough situation. Good luck and positive energy to you as you transition. Really enjoying your blog!

  2. I much prefer this Czech way of celebrating love rather than Valentine's Day which is an American/British import. You're quite right - because Spring has come so early this year, all the cherry blossoms were over by 1st May which is a shame. Another associated reason that love is celebrated on Petřín Hill, is that there is a statue there of the poet Karel Hynek Mácha who you quoted. See

    1. Hi Chaplain! I don't think I've ever seen the statue - must do. I also prefer this day to one that involves an overpriced dinner reservation :)


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