Czechs Never Valued EU Membership, Slovaks Learned to Respect It

Two European Stories and the Paradoxes of History

13 January 2021

The European stories of Slovakia and the Czech Republic are very different, despite their common history. In adopting the euro, Slovakia disconnected from its neighbour and gave it a special connection to the West.

A few days ago, I sold my largest painting, measuring two by one metre. I sold it to a Czech MEP who was interested in the fact that the mess of colours and lines, reminiscent of Jackson Pollock, was called “Accession to the European Union”.

The scene is abstractly linked to the most popular holiday of the Czechs, a holiday which, with its mass participation, surpasses the celebration of Christmas and Easter. It is a burning of witches (pálení čarodějnic), when huge fires from logs are lit all over the Czech Republic, on the top of which there is a witch, depicted in the form of a masquerade or with a broom.

It is a truly popular holiday in the Czech Republic. Local firefighters usually build the scene, a local band comes, toasts bacon and beer flows. It is the night when April enters May, witches’ night; on this St Jacob’s Night, perhaps full of pre-Christian pagan mysticism, the Czech Republic joined the European Union.

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Luboš Palata

EU editor of the Czech newspaper Deník and former Deputy Editor-in-Chief of the Slovak daily Pravda.

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