The “Short Trousers for Václav Havel” initiative started in 2012 to honour the memory of Václav Havel with a gesture that was unique, memorable and easily achieved by supporters of this exceptional person in modern Czech and European history.
Short Trousers is a reference to the well-known Havel stepping into political life in 1989 and his inauguration to the presidency in visibly short trousers. He explained vainly that rather than a tailor’s mistake it was his habit to pull his pants up at every dramatic situation. To this, one might say global mythology of his short trousers, he added with smile: „I must say that I am glad of it, more or less. From my point of view it’s a pretty gentle way of mocking myself“.
An effort to honour such respectable person by a gesture that points to this humorous episode might looks, at first sight, as a contradictory act. But the opposite is true. We believe that rolled trousers on the anniversary of the death of Václav Havel is a gesture which is Czech, slightly satirical and which can be easily joined by anyone who wants to honour the memory of the last Czechoslovak and the first Czech president Havel in a cheerful way.
Václav Havel (October 5, 1936 – December 18, 2011), Czech writer, playwright and important politician was elected president of Czechoslovakia on December 29, 1989 as the candidate of the anti-communist movement Civic Forum, of which he was co-founder. The dissident critic of the communist regime and spokesman for Charter 77, after taking office significantly influenced the direction of the country to a parliamentary democracy. He was president of Czechoslovakia and – after the collapse of the federation – also president of the Czech Republic for two terms until 2003. He deserved global recognition not only for his unique approach to political debate and the promotion of democratic civil society, but also because of his literary drama, to which he returned after his retirement from politics. Among his best-known plays include The Garden Party, Audience or Leaving.
December 18, 2012, the founders of a group of about fifteen members were joined by thousands of „Short-Trousers“ around the world. People sent more than 2,000 photos with their pants rolled up to the Facebook page of supporters of Václav Havel and there were various commemorations held in several cities in the Czech Republic.
We strongly believe that this initiative makes sense and that it is not only about respect for Václav Havel . By this seemingly superficial gesture, we wanted to encourage positive civic pride to demonstrate certain values. This civic participation, without which there is no democratic society, can take various forms, whether we engage roll trousers up, a reminder of one of Havel’s works or just a reflection of the values accepted by today’s society.
We believe that the great interest that we saw on December 18, 2012 was not a one-time event and that it will continue this year too, not only in the Czech Republic but also in the other countries of whole world. Personalities, who have until the last minute reminded that democracy can not be sustained without developing a civic intervention no matter of its form, need to be remembered.