I don’t want to sound like I am bragging but I came to the conclusion that the Czechs (and of course the Slovaks too) tend to have many talents. I don’t mean just in the field of music (hence the saying “Co Cech, to muzikant”, meaning “Every Czech is a musician”) or handy-work (hence the saying “Cesi maji zlate rucicky”, meaning “Czechs have golden hands”), I mean overall, like we are some kind of a resurrected Renaissance nation ;0)
For instance, I myself, when I get a little free time, like to read, knit, sew, draw, paint or play the piano. As far as outdoor activities go, I enjoy skiing, snowboarding and ice-skating. In the summer i roller-skate, play tennis or racquetball. And I also like to play chess. Of course, I am not a pro at any of these activities but I get around.
For most of these learned skills I am grateful to my parents who had the patience and the drive to teach me. My dad taught me how to play chess, play tennis and ski. My mom taught me how to sew and play the piano. My grandma on the other hand taught me how to knit.
Knowing how to draw is an interesting one: both me and my brother share this talent but we don’t know where it came from. No one from my family is good at drawing. But then again, both of my parents are exceptionally good at playing the piano (my mom even knows how to play the organ) and I am only a mediocre piano player, hence I did not inherit that particular music gene.
Why do I think the Czechs are more versatile compared to other nations? In my opinion the root lies in the family upbringing as well as in the history of our nation.
Most Czechs were farmers in the past and since they were used to a hard labor, doing everything themselves was not a problem for them. They had to know how to sew a shirt or knit a sweater or fix their chimney since there was no extra money to pay someone to do it for them. During both wars and during communism nice and quality things were scarce so – once again – if you wanted a nice dress you had to sew it yourself. If you wanted a quality sweater you had to knit it. And if you wanted a nice and durable furniture you had to build it.
Here is the other part of the equation: family upbringing
Most of my Czech friends including myself have learned various sports and other skills from their parents. Sport teams and sport clubs seemed nonexistent during communism so the parent-way was the only way. Now there are some good and bad aspects to this. Good, because you were not allowed to forget any of your taught skills. If you learned one winter how to ski, the next winter your parents took you on that same hill again and you were forced to ‘refresh’ your skiing skills….and the next winter after that and the next one after that and so on. Bad, because your teachers – although they were good teachers – were your parents. There was no screwing around. No one was babying you. If you were whining or did not cooperate you paid for it dearly 😉
Here in America children learn various activities via sport teams, drama classes, music classes or art classes. Once that particular class is over, it is up to the parent to practice that piano or that basketball with his child otherwise he will soon forget it. But what if the parent does not know how to play the piano or how to play basketball? Either you pay for an extra semester of classes or bye, bye piano, it’s been nice playing you.
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