The Czech Republic saw unusually warm temperatures throughout December: records at 100 recording stations (in operation for at least 30 years) were broken on Saturday. Eight places saw the previous maximum temperature for all of December surpassed. Děčín registered the warmest result: 16.8 degrees Celsius.
Retailers addressed by the Czech News Agency say they have seen an increase in post-Christmas sales of up to 20 percent year-on-year. Consumer interest is traditionally boosted by slashes in prices of as much as 70 or even 75 percent on some items. Retailers traditionally offer major discounts between December 26 and January 6, although some continue sales even longer in January. According to the Czech News Agency, customers express the greatest interest in discounted winter apparel, electronic items, foodstuffs as well as firecrackers and fireworks for New Year's Eve.
Jan Cemper, an organiser behind a Facebook initiative called "Against Displays of Hatred," has told the Czech News Agency that he will file a lawsuit against the head of state over allegedly disparaging comments the president made in his Christmas address. According to Mr Cemper, President Zeman slandered the organisers of a pro-migrant demonstration that took place in Prague on November 17, a national holiday. He said he will demand an apology. In his address, the president said the demonstrators planned to carry a banner reading "This country is not ours - Refugees welcome," but finally changed the slogan to "This country belongs to all - Refugees welcome." "From the very beginning, we neither planned having such slogans on our banners, nor did we have them at the demonstration," the group´s spokesman Jakub Hein said.
President Miloš Zeman's Christmas address broadcast on Saturday was
met with mixed reactions across the political spectrum. Prime Minister
Bohuslav Sobotka, while welcoming praise of his government on economic
policy, said in his speech the president had held onto prejudices regarding
the migration crisis and presented an oversimplified view. In his address,
Mr Zeman maintained that the migrant crisis was an "organised
invasion" and said the Czech Republic "did not and could not
belong to all". Finance Minister Andrej Babiš, who received a nod in
the speech, said he agreed with Mr Zeman's approach.
Politicians on the right side of the political spectrum were critical: the new head of TOP 09,Miroslav Kalousek, said the speech covered areas where the government and parliament and not the president had jurisdiction. Former foreign minister Karel Schwarzenberg recommended that Mr Zeman visit actual refugees fleeing war-torn areas to see that migrants were not just "lone men" but also the elderly and children.
The Communist Party's Vojtěch Filip said the president had repeated long-held views.
Czech police say they have no information that Czech towns are in danger from an possible terror attack over the holidays. Police spokeswoman Ivana Nguyenová made the statement on Saturday in reaction to a warning issued by Vienna; Austrian police stated they had received a warning from a "friendly" intelligence service saying that several European cities might be threatened by terror attacks involving the use of firearms or explosives between Christmas and New Year's Eve. No concrete cities were named. Vienna and other European police services have heightened security accordingly but Vienna has reportedly not cancelled any public events. Czech police say they have known about the warning for several days; it comes some six weeks after Islamist terrorists murdered 130 people in Paris and injured at least 350.
A record number of people – 339 – took part on Saturday in the 69th Alfréd Nikodém Memorial event, an annual swim in the Vltava River. The Polar bear dip, which takes place near the National Theatre building in the centre of Prague, has a long tradition: it was established in 1923 by Prague hardy-man Alfréd Nikodém who propagated winter swimming as part of a healthy lifestyle. The temperature of the water on Saturday was 6.9 degrees Celsius, the same as last year. Daytime highs were around 12 degrees Celsius with sunny conditions.
In his annual Christmas address to the nation President Milǒs Zeman
praised the government for unleashing the economy from what he called a
straight jacket of austerity measures which had been introduced by previous
centre-right governments. In his speech, he highlighted as crucial economic
growth matched with low unemployment, a rise in the average monthly wage
and improvement in old age pensions. Likewise, he praised 'economic
diplomacy' pursued by the government as well as himself, with China,
South Korea and other countries in Asia.
Noting past criticism charging that he lacked vision for the country, he reminded viewers watching the televised broadcast that he held in the highest regard the Scandinavian model of government, with high taxes, a tiered tax system, and strong social and health services.
President Zeman completed his address by discussing Europe's migrant crisis, questioning why lone young men forming part of the influx hadn't taken up arms against Islamic State to free their "own country". He called the migrant crisis "an invasion" and also responded to an NGO slogan from November 17 saying that refugees were welcome, by saying the Czech Republic was the Czechs' own and "did not and could not belong to all". The Christmas address was Mr Zeman's third since taking office.
BBC Sport football expert Mark Lawrenson has called Saturday's fixture
between Arsenal and Southampton a "tricky one", suggesting that
Arsenal, with goalkeeper Petr Čech needed to win if it wanted to win the
league this year. Earlier in the week, Petr Čech, who joined the Gunners
last summer from Chelsea, said in an interview that his club could go all
the way, after Arsenal still found ways to win despite recent injuries.
Regarding injuries, Czech midfielder Tomáš Rosický is to reportedly return to training in three weeks. The Czech international has been out of action for eight months and had knee surgery in August.