Christmas Eve in Czech Republic, is celebrated with a lot of feasting, as traditionally Christmas was an occasion of fasting. The entire day was spent in fasting, until the evening when rich foods are prepared and eaten with immense merriment and frolic. The tradition of fasting is carried out till today. Decorating the Christmas tree forms an integral part of Christmas. In Czech, traditionally, Christmas trees were embellished with apples, sweets and many traditional ornaments. As the Christmas tree was highly commercialized, many new Christmas ornaments took over the traditional elements. It is interesting to know that in Czech, gifts are not offered by Santa Claus, but by Baby Jesus. The gifts are meant for the children and who are notified of their arrival on the ringing of a bell (usually by their parents). There is little tweak in the concept of Santa Claus in Czech. Read on to know elaborately about the Christmas traditions and the Czech Santa Claus.
Customs, Traditions & Celebrations
Svaty Mikuláš is the Czech Saint Nicholas or Santa Claus. Unlike, the usual Santa, Svaty Mikuláš is clad in white robes giving the impression of a bishop. He is generally accompanied by an angel and a devil. On the Eve of St. Nicholas, he arrives with his companions with gifts for the children. St. Nicholas day in Czech is celebrated on December 5. The angel who assists Svaty Mikuláš is representative of good children and the devil symbolizes the bad ones.
According to the Czech culture, Baby Jesus is kind of Santa, who arrives with lots of gifts for the children. Thus, there are two concepts associated with Santa Claus in Czech. One is that of the usual St. Nicholas, the other being Baby Jesus. Customarily, the Christmas tree is decorated and kept in a separate room, which is left closed, until the morning. The children in the house are house are alerted of the gifts by the tinkle of bells, when they go and open the room to find with lots of gifts. The bells signify the advent of Baby Jesus who left presents for children.
The Christmas Tree Decorations
The Christmas tree was not a part of the traditional Christmas celebrations until the recent past. The Czechs have lately included the Christmas tree in the celebrations of Christmas. In Czech fruits such as apples and pears are lavish items in a season like winter. Therefore, apples and pears are chosen as ornaments to decorate the Christmas tree, as Christmas comes only once every year and is a very special occasion. Handcrafted angels, wreaths, heart shapes, bells and snowflakes are some common decorative items for the Christmas tree. Putting gingerbreads, walnuts, sweets and small candles on the Christmas tree are also a part of Czech tradition.
Customs & Traditions
The Czech Christmas begins four weeks ahead of 25th December. St. Barbara's Day is celebrated on 4th December, when people collect branches from cherries or morrello trees and place them in a warm corning, hoping them to blossom by Christmas Eve. This is a symbol of happiness and prosperity for the family. The Czech Christmas traditions are characterized by a number of superstitions and followed by many households even today. Tiny boats are made out of empty walnut shells and candles are placed in them, which are then left in a bowl of water. If the candle successfully floats across the bowl, it suggests a long and healthy life for the head of the family. In case it sinks, it is a bearer of bad news. So is the custom of cutting the apple crosswise into two halves and then checking for the shape of the core. If the core is shaped like a star, it is supposed to bring good luck for all. Pouring melted lead into water is said to prophesize the pourer's destiny or the major events of his or her life. A number of traditions foretell young girls about their marriages. According to the customs if a young girls places a cherry twig in water on December 4th, St. Barbara's Day, and if it blooms by Christmas Eve, she is likely is get married sometime in the year. Throwing a shoe over her shoulder towards door is also another way of judging her marriage time. If the shoe lands with its toe pointing towards the door, her marriage will be held within a year.
Christmas Dinner Customs
In Czech Republic, Christmas means indulging oneself in a lot of delicious food apart from the celebrations. Like many other nations, Czech Republic has its own set of Christmas customs and traditions.
Christmas In Czech Republic
- Fasting on Christmas Eve in Czech Republic is quite common. In evenings people break the fast a rich and scrumptious meal awaits them. Many customs are associated with the Christmas dinner, which if not followed are thought to drag misfortune into their lives. Following are some customs observed at the time of Christmas dinner:
- Only after the appearance of the first star the light in house are lit and the dinner is served.
- The table should be set for even number of people, as odd number brings bad luck.
- The legs of the table should be tied with a rope to protect the house from being robbed.
- No one should sit with their backs towards the door.
- The Christmas dinner should comprise of soup, bread with honey, carp, salads, potato, fruits and dessert. After these courses of food, the family can choose to prepare the recipe of their choice.
- Alcohol is strictly prohibited on Christmas Eve.
- Everyone should get up at the same time after dinner. Also, everyone should finish their dinner, leaving nothing on their plates.
- The leftovers should be buried around the trees and if there are any pets, they should also be fed. The idea is that no one is left hungry on Christmas Eve.
In Czech, Christmas is a peaceful and religious occasion. Most part of the time is spent in decorating the Christmas trees, attending the Midnight Mass, and preparing the dinner keeping in mind the customs. Christmas is joyous occasion, despite all the strict customs. Partying and holidaying is usually not seen in Czech during Christmas. It is more of a religious and family event.