Who are these Czechs?

When a Czech asks you how you are doing, it's never an empty phrase.

Czechs, as well as many other nations, can be viewed from two angles. On one hand, they do not smile much, are kind of moany and unwilling to express their opinions publicly. On the other hand, though, they are also very cordial, like to get together for a beer, constantly come up with stuff to do – and when a Czech asks you how you are doing, it's never an empty phrase; they are really interested and expect that you might even complain about something.

Let's take a little closer look at the character of this small Central European country.

The best example could be a story that happened about ten years ago and affected probably the whole country. A countrywide TV show called The Greatest Czech was on, inviting people to vote for the most significant historical figure. However, for a couple of weeks (before he was excluded) it seemed that it was a fictitious character called Jára Cimrman who was going to win. No great monarch, revivalist or man of letters. Just a man made up by a bunch of theatre performers.

Their Cimrman is a universal genius who invented a great many things (such as an airship) long before they were brought to light by the people they are attributed to nowadays. The bad luck is, almost no one knows it. So the Czechs enjoy themselves and in a sort of way they fantasise that all the important things on Earth were invented by their fellow-countryman anyway.

When you get to the country, you are quite likely to fall for a trick. Telling lies is about as common as in any other country; however, there is one thing that every single Czech will lie about: If someone tells you, “let's go for one beer” (or in short, “let's have one”), you can be pretty sure that you'll end up with more than one pint. Czechs love beer, they actually have the highest annual per capita consumption of it in the world. And once this small country has any kind of world primacy, it is duly proud of it and pampers it.

And there is one other thing Czechs are good at: ice-hockey. May, the month of the world ice-hockey championship, is characterised by streets full of people running around with flags and dressed in jerseys. Even though in normal circumstances we don't show the affiliation with the nation very openly, these three weeks we leave our restraint aside and support really loudly – particularly in pubs. Czechs and get enthusiastic about sports in general. Currently the most trendy ones (besides the traditional football or for example athletics) are biathlon, tennis and speed skating.