It’s the Little Things: Czech Quirks

Some things which have crossed my mind recently…


1. Staplers

Staplers are called “little horses” (koník). I don’t know if it’s just coincidence, but I barely ever see them here! Papers are much more likely to be held together with these ubiquitous clear plastic sleeves.

2. Sink faucets

These are called “little roosters” (kohoutek). Actually a pretty clever connection. I’ve said before and I’ll say it again… people here are way closer to nature (and to typical farm animals).

Via Pinterest

3. Umbrellas

I grew up with the superstition that you should never open an umbrella inside because it brings bad luck. Czechs have no problem with this at all and umbrellas usually remain open on the floor until dried off. It still freaks me out whenever I see it!

4. Hand towels

Not only is no house complete without a few sets of hand towels, these can be found even in the public arena. Work offices (like mine at school), some restaurants, cafés, community centers and other public places put them next to the sink instead of paper towels. Now I’m not sure if this comes from the ecological or financial point of view (or both), but I’ve always wondered who washes them and how often.

5. Everyone is an armchair biologist / herbalist / mycologist

Mushrooming is a favorite Czech pastime. But so is growing herbs in your own garden, or going out into “the nature” to collect them and make, for example, your own tea mixes. Right now, the popular thing is medvědí česnek (can be translated literally as bear garlic, but also called wild garlic or ramsons). I know a bunch of people who go on hikes to harvest this wild resource and add it to salads, pestos, and other dishes. Many people who have a large stock give it to their lazier (or American – me!) friends.

Bear garlic, via

6. Pencil cases

Maybe it’s because I spend a lot of time at a school and around students, but it seems to me that everyone organizes their stray writing utensils with a pencil case, some of which are very unique and expressive. For example, I saw one in the shape of a Converse shoe.

But it’s not just the students – teachers do it too! I think Czechs are very organized people in general. It’s just that this is not something I remember being as big in my high school.

Via Pinterest


  1. Don’t forget house slippers! No Czech home is complete without a ton of slippers of various sizes for all the guests.

    Also don’t forget the Czech obsession with cooking up a bunch of schnitzel to take along on even the most modest of day trips. 🙂


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