Nazdar! Czech greeting has fascinating history

Ceremonial laying of the foundation stone of the Czech National Theatre, May 16, 1868

November 21 is World Greeting Day. One particular Czech greeting – Nazdar – has a colourful history.

The Czech greeting Nazdar (Nazdarek is a more familiar version) could be translated as Hi and is not employed in polite conversation or with strangers.

Though very commonly used, it has a relatively recent history, dating back around 170 years to the period when the Czech National Theatre was being built in Prague.

When patriots were travelling the Czech lands collecting money towards the theatre’s construction they carried boxes bearing the words “Na zdar Národního divadla”, which means something like “To the success of the National Theatre”.

Within a short time Na zdar had been shortened to Nazdar – and became a common greeting.

The Sokol nationalist-minded gymnastics organisation used Nazdar and also sewed it on their flags.

During WWI there was a platoon of Czech legionnaires in France named NAZDAR and later the greeting was employed by soldiers and scouts. Today it is regularly exclaimed by a large section of the Czech population.

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