Poslední Zvonění – The Last Ringing
If you find yourself in a Czech city around April or May, you’ll likely see groups of young people dressed up in all kinds of costumes and asking people on the street for money. You’ll also see themed picture boards featuring groups of young people in the windows of shops.
It’s an annual tradition that confuses many visitors and creates divided opinions among Czechs themselves. Let’s take a look at Poslední Zvonění:
The tradition is connected to the writing of the school leaving exam, Maturita in Czech, and takes place during a week long break the students are given between the written and oral parts of the exam. The week is used to study at home, but also to have a bit of fun as they say goodbye to school and hear the ringing of a school bell for the last time.
Graduating classes typically make a themed picture board showing all members of the class as well as the teachers. These boards are displayed prominently in the windows of shops who have agreed to letting the students use their windows.
As for the costumed part, it’s mostly up to the students’ imagination as to what the group theme will be and the themes can be quite varied indeed. The money they collect is used to fund their graduation parties. It’s not unusual for the students to have some small sweets as an exchange for the money. Not much money is expected beyond a bit of pocket change.
Most Czechs are quite happy to accept the tradition as a bit of fun. However, there are some that see it as a nuisance despite the fact that there are rules of etiquette for the students to follow and they are polite and friendly when carrying out the tradition.