Five percent of Czechs are believed to be addicted to the internet. Czech salons have started offering “massages for two” and, a Czech town plans a huge birthday celebration – only to find it got the date wrong –by 88years! Find out more in Magazine with Daniela Lazarova.

May Day is marked as Labour Day in most countries of the world. But in the Czech Republic it is also celebrated as a day of love - the Czech version of Valentine’s Day. One of the traditions is that couples in love should kiss under a cherry or apple tree in bloom to ensure that their relationship blossoms in the coming year. Some towns even organize kissing contests in how many couples manage to kiss under a cherry tree within a set amount of time. The current record holder is Šumperk where 390 couples turned up to perform this “ceremony” in the local park. Love was in the air elsewhere as well but no other town managed to beat that record. Meanwhile, the citizens of Liberec spent May Day in gourmet fashion as the town hall hosted a contest of forgotten regional recipes.

Anyone could take part and so people searched their dog-eared family cookbooks for something that would be considered truly special. The winner produced a three-course menu of marinated cheese, the Reicheberg pork roll and a fruit dessert. Reichenberg is the German name for Liberec and the winner found the recipe for the winning specialty in his attic – luckily for him it was in Czech. And if you are wondering what it tastes like, then I should tell you that the Reichenberg pork roll will be on the menu of the Ambiente restaurant in Liberec until the end of the year.

Just a decade ago not many people in the Czech Republic had their own PC at home, never mind the internet. Today psychologists are warning about the dangers of becoming an internet addict. Dozens of young people have had to seek professional help after the internet literally took over their lives. The symptoms are easy to detect – people stop communicating, forget to take a break to eat and eventually even neglect personal hygiene. But then, teenagers don’t spend much time communicating with their parents so the early symptoms are easy to overlook and today a number of Czech students are on the verge of getting expelled from school as a result of their internet addiction. Psychologists claim that an estimated five percent of Czechs suffer from this modern-day foe, although only a fraction of them seek help. Psychologist Magdalena Frouzková says that in 2007 she had twelve patients with this diagnosis – among them a middle aged man whose marriage was breaking up because he couldn’t get off the computer and a twelve year old girl who established a second life as an intent witch and appeared to be loosing touch with reality.

On the other hand Czechs who know when to close their PCs have learnt how to pamper their bodies in order to ease their strained neck and back muscles. Massage salons say that since Czechs started using computers on a daily basis and spending long hours at the office the number of their clients has tripled. Women come to them for aromatherapy massages, chocolate and coffee massages, while men usually just want a classic massage to ease their sore muscles from work or tennis. However salons have now started a new trend of “massages for two”. Many men and women are now buying these relaxing sessions for their partners as a thank-you gift or as a special treat for their date – in the hope that the date will turn out just as they want it to.

After forty years of isolation behind the Iron Curtain, Czechs are really keeping pace with world trends. Recently a Czech girl offered to sell her virginity on the internet and now a fifty-three-year old man is offering his body as advertising space. He has shaved his head to increase the space available and is asking a set price for the use of his head, arms, back and so on. Using his head as an ad for a period of 12 months would cost you three million crowns. For the present time no has taken him up on the offer.

Does your family, partner or roommate infuriate you from time to time? Clearly it is not just humans who have problems coexisting. An elephant at the Ostrava Zoo bit off part of another elephant’s trunk, leaving the poor animal badly crippled. Although the elephant now uses its front leg to help shovel food into its mouth – the keepers have to help feed it properly. Ten centimeters of its trunk were bitten off and no one has figured out the reason why.

You know how it is with anniversaries – occasionally you forget –or get the date wrong. Whatever your experience with them, it can’t be any worse than that of Vladimír Roztočil, mayor of Svinaře. For the past year he has been masterminding preparations for the town’s 1,000 birthday anniversary. The town cleaned up its public places, planted flowers on the main square and gave the local school and church a much needed face-lift. The local choir has been practicing like mad for the jubilee, a documentary film and CD were commissioned for the occasion and a book on the town’s history was due to come out in a few week’s time. A number of prominent Czech actors were persuaded to take part in a play which was to premiere at the local theatre hall on the big day itself and a fireworks display was being prepared for the big night. Jubilee leaflets were printed, invitations sent out and everything was going according to plan for the end-of-June celebrations when an ill-fated letter arrived in the mail. It was from the National Archive, which pointed out that the earliest references about the town of Svinaře were not dated 1008 but 1088. “It was like a bolt of lightening from the blue” the town’s mayor said when he’d recovered from the shock. It appears that a local history enthusiast who was engaged in writing the mentioned book had got the date wrong – and set the ball rolling. The town has become a laughing-stock and the mayor says that the biggest disappointment was that preparations had come so far. “We were keyed-up to celebrate this jubilee and it is clear that unless they invent an elixir of youth we will not live to see it” he told reporters sadly.