While most countries celebrate International Workers’ Day on the 1st of May, the people in Prague go out on the streets to kiss. Noah Matous and newbie Ruben Bart are happy to demonstrate.
On May 1st, couples gather at the statue of Karel Hynek Mácha, the Czech Romantic “poet of love”, in Prague’s Petrín Park where they lay flowers and kiss their loved ones. The park is a particularly romantic place in May when its cherry trees are in bloom. Since May 1st is a national holiday in the Czech Republic, lots of people come to Petrín for a stroll if the weather is nice.
Karel Hynek Mácha (1810 – 1836) was a great Czech Romantic poet and author of the epic poem Máj (May). The poem, written in a remarkably beautiful style, tells about the tragic love of two young people and has become a poetic masterpiece of the Czech Romantic period and Czech literature in general.
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 frail,
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 poem Máj (May) is really long. For those of you who are interested, here is the full text of the poem.
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In the early nineties, Czech pop singer Lucie Bílá released a very popular song about Prague’s Petrín Park and the May 1st tradition. The clip was quite controversial at that time.
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