HISTORY OF THE BEXAR COUNTY CZECH HERITAGE SOCIETY
As early as 1978 San Antonio Czechs wanted to form an organization to promote awareness of the Czech culture in the San Antonio area. The original objectives were to promote knowledge, understanding, and appreciation of their Czech ancestry. This was done and is still done through social functions, education programs, and cultural events.
In the early days the organization (called the Czech Foundation) provided assistance to refugees fleeing communism in Czechoslovakia. Members acquainted them with the customs of America, helped them to learn the English language, and gave them financial help and helped them look for jobs.
In 1990 the Czech Foundation reorganized and joined the Czech Heritage Society (CHS) of Texas and was known as the Bexar County Czech Heritage Society (BCCHS) of Texas. Since there are no longer refugees, we now provide an opportunity for Czech and Slovak immigrants to participate in some of the traditions such as the annual visit of St. Nicholas (Mikulas) at our December Christmas gathering.
The society sponsors an annual dance featuring a Texas-Czech band in which the public can enjoy Czech music known in Texas and in the Czech Republic. We also have an annual heritage day festival, now known as the Czech-Slovak Heritage Festival held on the last Sunday of October (to commemorate the formation of Czechoslovakia as a new nation after World War I). At the festival we promote awareness of immigrant history with a genealogy display. An elaborate cultural display of the Czech and Slovak cultures includes information of the languages, traditions, recipes, crafts, and tourist brochures. Visitors can also enjoy a band playing polkas and waltzes as well as a Czech style meal.
The society donated money to the Institute of Texan Cultures located in downtown San Antonio to help upgrade the Czech display there. The chapter participated in ITC’s Folklife Festival for many years. Several members are docents who guide school classes and other visitors through the ITC displays. Some members take the society’s Tex-Kit to local schools to provide opportunities for students to learn more about the Czech heritage and traditions.
Besides having an annual heritage festival and an annual dance, we have quarterly chapter meetings (to include a program and a social). We also have informal scheduled conversational Czech language classes. Two yearly scholarships are awarded to members or family members pursuing higher education. We have socials to show movies, both documentary and featured films. Taroky card playing socials (to teach and practice the game), and hands on practice preparing Czech desserts have been popular also,
See the Events Calendar for all of these activities. We are always happy to welcome new visitors and future members. We enjoy promoting the Czech and Slovak cultures to the public and to the descendants of those early and more recent Czech and Slovak immigrants.