How to celebrate Christmas in the Czech Republic and Czechoslovakia. Christmas traditions in Prague
Christmas holiday in december in the Czech Republic
I have been living in the Czech Republic for more than 20 years and have collected all the Czech Christmas traditions that I have seen, participated in, or been told about by Czechs. From December 24 to December 26, only tourists can be found on the streets of Czech cities — Czechs celebrate Christmas holidays at home with their family or go on vacation.
Christmas days in december in the Czech Republic. The Czech word Vánoce (Christmas) comes from the Old German wāhnachten (now Weihnachten), consisting of the words wīha- (to consecrate) and Nacht (night). Christmas in the Czech Republic is celebrated on December 24 (Christmas Eve or Generous Day – Štědrý den), December 25 (Boží hod vánoční) and December 26 (Saint Stepan, svatý Štěpán).
Christmas traditions Czech Republic – Advent. The Advent period begins 4 Sundays before Christmas Eve, during which preparations for Christmas are underway. According to the Advent calendar (Adventní kalendář), children count down the days until their favorite Christmas holiday in the Czech Republic. The calendar usually includes 24 days and ends on a Generous Day.
What is celebrated in december in the Czech Republic
There are several interesting Czech Christmas holidays in December during the Advent period. Visit Prague in december 2022.
On December 4, St. Barbara’s Day is celebrated in the Czech Republic (svátek sv. Barbory). On this day, cherry or cherry twigs are cut off and put them in a vase at home in water: if the twigs bloom before Christmas Eve, it means that the girl will get married this year.
Angel, devil and Saint Mikulash
On December 5, the Czech Republic celebrates the Feast of St. Mikulas, otherwise St. Nicholas the Wonderworker (Svatý Mikuláš).
According to the Christmas tradition in the Czech Republic, Mikulash walks with a staff in the company of a devil and an angel. They walk around Prague and ask the children about their behavior this year. If the child has behaved well, the angel gives a treat. The devil gives naughty children coal, he can carry away some children in his bag, and the angel tries in every possible way to protect the little ones. Mikulas distributes nadilka (symbolic Christmas treats) to children and gives gifts. Many kids willingly sing Mikulasha – baby carriages and receive gifts from him holidays to Prague December 2022.
Saint Mikulash in the Czech Republic (aka Saint Nicholas) is a classic prototype of Santa Claus. By tradition, he also delivers gifts for Christmas in the Czech Republic, but he does it on his own day — at night from December 5 to December 6. Mikulash is dressed in a red or white cloak and a bishop’s headdress, and in his hands he has a staff recognizable by all children. Sometimes embers are given out along with good gifts to remind the child that he has been naughty this year.
St. Lucia’s Day
December 13. St. Lucia’s Day in the Czech Republic, which the Czechs consider a defender against witches. In Moravia, it is believed that to protect against sorceresses, it is necessary to burn one log in the fireplace from this day until Christmas. According to the canon, women are not allowed to spin, sew and wash on this day.
Christmas traditions in Czechoslovakia
Christmas Eve or a Generous Day
December 24. In the Czech Republic, Christmas Eve is also called a Generous Day, although this is an erroneous name — the evening before the birth of Christ was called Generous, since the Jews started the day from sunset, not from midnight. Therefore, the birth of Jesus was celebrated after sunset on December 24. Ivan Fišera did not know this and in the spring of 1990 proposed to make this date a public holiday. Since then, Czechs and Slovaks are the only ones who have a public holiday and a day off on Christmas Day. Christmas cookies (vánoční cukroví) and gingerbread cookies are prepared a few days before the generous day.
Another Christmas tradition in the Czech Republic is that if you fast all day long, you can see a golden pig. At Christmas markets in Prague, you can buy one and give it to yourself, a child or a relative.
Christmas fairs in the Czech Republic – Vánoční trh
Events in Prague in december for Christmas. Christmas fairs in Prague and throughout the Czech Republic begin to open in mid–late November, the city is decorated, and Christmas trees are installed in squares. Many Czechs living in private homes decorate Christmas trees in the yard — this is how they create an unusual Christmas holiday for themselves and passers-by.
Street food for Christmas in the Czech Republic
Trips to Prague in December. Czech Christmas fairs are inferior in scope to German or Austrian fairs, but they are not without their charm. You can try hot Mulled wine (svařák) and potato pancakes (bramboráčky), split roasted chestnuts (pečené kaštaný), eat trdelnik (trdelník), eat fried sausages (smažené párky) and other hot dishes of street Christmas food in Prague.
Czech delicacies at the Christmas Market:
- tortillas fried in oil, sprinkled with grated cheese and garlic
- roasted peanuts in sugar
- pancakes with various fillings, with lavender honey and ratatouille
- czech traditional round waffles — oplatky
- homemade honey, mead, punches, grog, mulled wine, various fruit drinks and juices, tea and coffee, nonalco
- draniki and Czech chips — bramboráky a brambówrky
- fried smoked cheese
- boiled corn
- czech sausages with mustard
- pickled hermelin according to the old Czech recipe — nakládaný hermelín
- levandulový švihák — lavender wine, lavender meringue (sněhové pusinky) and lavender honey — you’ll lick your fingers!
National dishes of Czech cuisine. What to eat in the Czech Republic
Traditional Christmas customs in the Czech Republic. Also in the markets you can buy gifts for Christmas in Prague — handmade dolls, knitwear, candles, Christmas decorations and other products of local craftsmen are sold. According to the tradition of Christmas in the Czech Republic, gingerbread is sold at fairs. But the locals do not buy them, but bake Christmas gingerbread according to their recipes.
Czech Republic glass Christmas ornaments in Prague
What you can buy at Christmas fairs in the Czech Republic?
Decorations for the Christmas tree in Prague. Famous Czech Christmas tree toys made of real blown glass. The assortment includes a huge number of bright and extraordinary glass figures in the form of people, animals, flowers and fairy-tale characters.
Christmas glass decorations in the Czech Republic made of glass beads (small glass beads). It was in the Czech Republic that such Christmas tree toys first appeared in the town of Ponikla in the 19th century. The old tradition has been preserved to this day and its successor was the company Ratio. The company tries to adhere to the unique technology of jewelry making. Now the Christmas tree toys of Ratius are popular all over the world.
Glass decorations in Prague for the New Year. Candle-holder houses are another charming Christmas decoration in the Czech Republic. The products are handmade from red clay in the form of miniature Czech houses. There is a candle inside the souvenirs, and aromatic oil can be poured into the pipe of the house. Thus, you will get a full-fledged aroma lamp. If you want to please and pleasantly surprise your loved ones, then such a house is a great option.
Prague Christmas bauble. Marionette dolls are also traditional Czech toys. They are made by hand and sold in souvenir shops, toy stores and at street fairs.
Nativity Scene in the Czech Republic – Betlém
The Nativity Scene is the cave in which, according to the Holy Scriptures, Jesus Christ was born. Traditionally, decorative biblical compositions on the theme of the birth of Christ with a small paddock with sheep, goats, donkeys and ponies are put on at Christmas fairs.
Czech Republic Christmas decorations in Prague. In the Czech Republic, installing betlems at Christmas is very popular. A biblical scene can be found at every fair, in temples and squares.
The first manger was exhibited in 1560 by the Jesuit Order in the Prague Clementinum. At that time, the tradition of installing mangers concerned primarily churches. In some there were wooden figures almost as tall as a man, decorated with gold, dressed in expensive satin and lace clothes.
The tradition continued until the 18th century, when in 1780 Emperor Joseph II ascended the throne, forbidding the installation of mangers and nativity scenes in temples and churches. However, this tradition in the Czech Republic was already so lively and people liked it very much that they did not want to lose it. In almost all houses, the owners made with their own hands or bought from artisans.
Czechs decorate the Christmas tree – Vánoční stromek
Prague Christmas ornaments. On December 1, the main Christmas tree of the country is opened on the Old Town Square (Staroměstké naměstí) in Prague. But according to tradition, families in their homes and apartments decorate a Christmas tree (Vánoční stromek) on a Generous Day. There must be a star at the top of the Christmas tree.
Photo. Christmas trees are sold everywhere in the Czech Republic. It is most convenient to buy a Christmas tree near the house, it will cost you from 500 to 2,000 CZK.
Decorating a Christmas tree for Christmas in the Czech Republic was first started in 1812, following the example of the director of the Stavovsky Theater in Prague, Jan Karel Leibich. The following year, there were more families who liked this idea. The first mention of Christmas trees in the homes of villagers occurred at the beginning of the 20th century. Then the fir trees were decorated only with apples and nuts, then with gingerbread and candles, until the Christmas tree toy industry developed to the present state.
Czech Christmas tree
Already on December 25, you can’t buy a Christmas tree in the Czech Republic. Christmas traditions in the Czech Republic – decorated Christmas tree. The Christmas tree not only decorates the space, but also creates a magical atmosphere. It is under it that the Czech Yezhishek should put gifts. By tradition, you need to decorate a fir tree on Christmas Eve.
Christmas traditions in Czechoslovakia. On December 26-27, you can see already discarded Christmas trees. By the way, here zoos accept Christmas trees (if there are no decorations left on them) for food and for bedding animals. And the main Christmas tree of the country is bought for 10,000 Czech crowns from the winner of the annual contest for the best Christmas tree in the Czech Republic.
Christmas ornaments of Prague in the Czech Republic
Traditional attributes of Christmas in the Czech Republic. On New Year and Christmas in the Czech Republic, spruce branches are brought into the house. The green branches of coniferous trees were a kind of forerunners of Christmas trees. They were decorated and continue to be decorated today, and in many homes they are used as an element of festive decor. But they also have a symbolic meaning – they protect from evil and diseases.
How to celebrate Christmas in the Czech Republic
Little Jesus and the Czech Christmas Vánoce
Christmas in the Czech Republic on December 24 2022. The most long—awaited holiday of the year – Christmas or in Czech Vánoce takes place on the night of December 24-25. Starting from these dates, cities in the Czech Republic die out for about four days. Czechs spend the Christmas weekend at home with their family or go to country houses, in a simple way – dachas.
Christmas traditions in the Czech Republic
If you go outside on December 24 in the Czech Republic, you will find the apocalypse. Silence, empty streets, idle cafes, shops and fairs. Cities seem to be dying out. And all because the Czechs celebrate Christmas and spend the four days off at home with their family. But this is not the only Czech Christmas tradition. There should be an even number of guests at the festive table, if this does not work out, they put an empty plate. No one can get up from the table, but sometimes tradition allows an exception for the hostess.
Czechoslovakia Christmas dinner
Vegetable soup is served for lunch on Christmas Day in the Czech Republic, it is not just a broth with floating vegetables, but a fairly thick soup. You can’t eat meat before dinner yet, otherwise you won’t see the golden pig.
The main component of Christmas dinner in the Czech Republic is carp. Traditionally, a glass of champagne is drunk first, then carp fish soup is served. For the second course, potato salad, fried carp in breadcrumbs. Of course, breading with beer. Actually, everything. There are no tables bursting with a variety of dishes. People do not overeat and do not get drunk, but simply celebrate the holiday in a family circle.
On a generous evening on December 24, the traditional festive dinner consists of fish soup (Czech carp soup with caviar). Fried crackers are served with the soup, and potato salad with fried carp is served for the second. All this is generously washed down with local coffee and gin and tonic.
In the Czech fish soup from carp, there must be a lot of carp caviar, carp is also finely chopped so that the soup has a creamy consistency (believe me, a spoon is worth licking your fingers). Next to the Czech belief, the festive table for Christmas in the Czech Republic and a generous evening should be decorated with carp, then happiness will surely come to the house in the New Year.
Prague Christmas 2022 in the Czech Republic
Christmas for Catholics lasts three days from December 24 to December 26. In the Czech Republic, holidays are not postponed, if December 26 fell on a Saturday, then no additional weekend will be added. In Europe and the USA there is a term White Christmas – when snow falls on holidays. It doesn’t happen every year in the Czech Republic.
Czech christmas traditions. Fried carp, or any other fish for dinner on Christmas Eve began to be served not so long ago. Previously, soups and bean dishes were considered traditional on this day. Rich townspeople began to cook fish first, and this custom reached the villages only in the 20th century. If you don’t like carp, then you can cook pike, trout, salmon and any other seafood. During Christmas and New Year carp can be bought right on the street in specially installed tents.
Prague unusual Christmas traditions in the Czech Republic. According to tradition, in order to always have money in your wallet, you need to put a fish scale in it.
How to cook Czech carp soup for Christmas
You may ask, who gives Czechs gifts for Christmas?
Gifts for children at Christmas are brought not by Santa Claus, but by Ježíšek— the baby Jesus. It is to him that they write letters with wishes and hang them out of the window. When a bell is heard ringing on Christmas Eve, it means that Yezhishek came and hid gifts under the Christmas tree. Many Czech children are perplexed — how could a little Yezhishek put presents under the Christmas tree for all the children of the country in one night?
There are whole branches of articles on the forums of moms, what should children answer the question “What does Yezhishek look like?” No one knows exactly what baby Jesus looks like and how he so quietly hides gifts under the Christmas tree.
Previously, Christmas gifts in the Czech Republic were delivered by St. Nicholas (Mikulas), and the tradition associated with Yezhishek came from Germany in the 19th century. Now Mikulash “works” only on December 6, when he delivers gifts to obedient children.
Prague wonderful traditions of Christmas in the Czech Republic
At Christmas in the Czech Republic, they give each other mistletoe
Attributes of Christmas in the Czech Republic — Mistletoe. This is a parasitic plant growing between the branches of trees. Its branches are sold not only in the usual form, sometimes they are covered with gold or silver paint. Mistletoe twigs are sold in various designs in large quantities, are a symbol of fertility and happiness. It is customary to buy them as a gift, decorate the house with them.
Czech Republic Christmas ornaments. Mistletoe is an evergreen plant that is usually given for Christmas in Czechoslovakia. It is not necessary to buy it – only to give it, because only the presented branches of mistletoe bring happiness. Mistletoe twigs are hung most often under a light bulb on the ceiling or on the edge of the door. According to legend, a man has the right to kiss any woman or girl under the mistletoe twigs. People used to say: “Whoever kisses under the mistletoe will fall in love with someone else.” Their love will live forever.
Christmas attributes in the Czech Republic. Mistletoe twigs are sold in various designs in large quantities, are a symbol of fertility and happiness. It is customary to buy them as a gift, decorate the house with them, and a couple who find themselves under the mistletoe should kiss.
Christmas music in the Czech Republic
Vánoce, Vánoce přicházejí is the most popular Christmas song that gets into your head, and it is impossible to get rid of it before the end of the year.
Traditional fortune telling in the Czech Republic for Christmas
In the Czech Republic, an apple is cut for Christmas
When the family finishes the meal on Christmas Eve, according to custom, it is necessary to cut the apple in half. If a five-pointed star with healthy seeds is visible inside, then health and happiness awaits the household next year. If the core turns out to be wormy or has the shape of a cross, then the coming year may be unsuccessful. To avoid such a fate, however, is possible if you choose a big beautiful apple.
Fortune telling in Prague for Christmas – Four walnuts
Hhow to guess in the Czech Republic at Christmas. If you crack four walnuts and find healthy kernels in them, then you should not have any health problems all New Year. If moldy or dried nuts come across, then, according to beliefs, one should be wary of diseases. In this case, you can also outwit “fate” a little – choose only beautiful nuts.
Fortune telling in the Czech Republic for Christmas – Walnut shell boats
A little wax is dripped into empty walnut shells, and then small candles are placed in them, after which they are put into water in a small container. If the improvised boats will float for a long time with lit lights, then the New Year will be happy. If they sail to the center, then the road awaits you; if they gather at the edge, you will feel good at home.
Czechs throw shoes
How to guess in Prague at Christmas. Unmarried girls can easily find out on Christmas Eve whether they will get married next year. You need to throw a shoe over your head: if it falls with the heel to the door, then there will be no wedding; if with a sock, you can prepare a dress.
Christmas fortune-telling in the Czech Republic – They write and pull out leaves with predictions
Christmas traditions in the Czech Republic. Czechs know how to have fun on Christmas Eve. Everyone who gathered at the festive table should write words on pieces of paper that indicate what a person can expect next year, for example, happiness, health, wealth, etc. Then everyone pulls three pieces of paper from the plate that will predict the near future (the leaves with predictions need to be returned to the bowl so that the number of predictions does not decrease). To make the evening pass positively, it is better to write only about positive things.
Lead casting — Lití olova
One of the Christmas traditions is the casting of hot liquid lead into a container with water, the result can be judged on the near future. Lead divination kits can be found in most Czech shops, they also include a description and interpretation of the various forms obtained.
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Gingerbread is an attribute of Christmas in the Czech Republic