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Expert recommendations and insider tips for first-time visitors and locals alike from ARTĚL’s founder, Karen Feldman, who has lived in Prague since 1994. Click on the links below for detailed reviews – from Feldman’s own unique perspective – of all the best that Prague has to offer...

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What Exactly is Cucumber Season?

Published on June 11th, 2015 in Basics

  • A little summer knitting in Olomouc, c.1984 (photo courtesy of www.blesk.cz)

  • Jiři Fiala, After a successful day of mushroom-picking at his Chata, c.1980

  • Tent set up in the garden of the Chata in Kamenice, 1969 (photo: abl, courtesy of www.blesk.cz)

  • Start of pool season in Karvinná, 1934 (photo courtesy of www.archives.cz/zao/karvina)

  • Karel Gott on the beach in Bulgaria, 1966 (photo credit: Milan Baron, courtesy of www.cestovani.idnes.cz)

  • Czechs vacationing in Romania (photo credit: ČTK, courtesy of www.cestovani.idnes.cz)

  • Harvesting cucumbers (photo courtesy of www.znojemskaokurka.cz)

  • Harvesting lots of cucumbers (photo courtesy of www.vaclavek.blog.idnes.cz/)

  • Idle summer afternoon in Brno, c. 1914 (photo courtesy of www.hvezdarna.cz)

  • Camping in Pardubice, c.1970s (photo courtesy of www.ldtzblovice.cz)

  • Houseboat holiday (photo credit: archive Dany Emingerové, courtesy of www.cestovani.idnes.cz)

  • Bludovický Hill in the town of Havířov, 1965 (photo courtesy of www.karvinsky.denik.cz)

 

In the Czech Republic, the summer months bring weekend trips to cottages and garden colonies, lazy afternoons in the beer gardens, and, a rather interesting, if mildly annoying for those of us who work in an office, phenomenon known as “cucumber season” (okurková sezóna).

 

Cucumber season is not unique to the Czech Republic. In English-speaking countries it is known as the “silly season” (UK) or the “slow season” (US). The term was coined in Britain in 1861 and back then referred to August and September, “the part of the year when Parliament and the Law Courts are not sitting”.

 

Essentials for a nice swim (photo courtesy of www.brejle.net/)

 

This meant that newspapers, with their politicians—and readers—on seaside holiday and little newsworthy to write about, would drum up attention-grabbing headlines to boost sales. I have to say that given the current click-bait state of the media, these days silly season could be year round!

  

Countries all over the world have their own term for the dog days of the off-season, many of them making reference to “cucumber news” (Norway) or “cucumber time” (Estonia) presumably because this crunchy salad topper is harvested and pickled in the summer.

 

Here in the Czech Republic cucumber season isn’t just media slang, it’s more of a cultural tradition spanning July through early September when just about everyone, no matter what your profession, is out to an extended lunch or sunning themselves on a beach in Croatia somewhere.

 

Family holiday in Bulgaria (photo credit: abl, courtesy of www.blesk.cz)

 

Doctor appointments are impossible. Shops have erratic opening hours. Need to get someone on the telephone after 1pm on a Friday? Want to plan a Monday morning meeting? Forget about it. In my experience, cucumber season could also be known as e-mail auto-reply season.

 

While summer comes with its own particular set of challenges for those of us who live here, for visitors to Prague it is most certainly the high season and the city will open its doors to you—although good luck finding a seat at the beer garden!


 

 

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