My Childhood Sundays in Communist Czechoslovakia

I didn’t like them because I had to get up early and I wanted to sleep late. But my parents wouldn’t let us, they insisted that my sister and I join them at church where everything started at 9.

blog3AWe children would go downstairs to rather cold rooms in the basement where we would join groups of kids of our age and then a lady would tell us Biblical stories. We called the ladies “Auntie” plus their first name. I didn’t like to do that. I didn’t like them enough to use the demunitive and I felt equally uncomfortable when they called me by sweet little names while obviously feeling nothing for me.

We sang a lot which I didn’t like either but I especially disliked having to wear skirts there regardless of the season or the weather and having to perform in front of the whole congregation at Christmas. For getting up early Sunday after Sunday, missing a TV programme all the other kids were talking about, there seemed to be just punishments, no reward.

blog3BContrary to Christian teaching, one could even be mocked for all the hardship. Occasionally some schoolmates saw me and my family, all rediculously dressed up in otherwise deserted Sunday streets, and they would ask where we were going. I intuitively knew I shouldn’t say. Nobody else I knew from school was a church goer. Nobody else had unrelated “Aunties”. We kids were “pioneers” and adults were “commrades”. It was my parents who were unreasonable and strange and that was making me feel ashamed.

blog3CTo hide this I at least exclaimed “For God sake” and “Jesus Christ” a lot in classes where my parents couldn’t hear me and reproach me for abusing Lord’s name. But to their displeasure I would stand upright and salute even in their presence whenever the Czechoslovak anthem played.

The input of Sunday Aunties didn’t erase the impact of every other ordinary day.

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