This is the second of a two-part miniseries about Christmas in the Czech Republic.
Hořovice, CZECH REPUBLIC – In primary schools, Czech children are taught about American and British Christmas, about the traditions and habits during the Christmas season in English speaking countries.
I’ve always been fascinated by the differences between this Christmas and the one I’d been familiar with my whole life, so I hope this piece will bring the atmosphere of a Czech Christmas to your home wherever in the world you are and whether or not you celebrate the holiday.
To understand Christmas in Czechia, it’s vital to know that every family has its own traditions rooted as far as hundreds of years ago. But it seems that there are a few habits that are kept by the majority of Czechs.
Let’s look at some of them.
Czech people love walks, so almost every family goes outside for a small walk to the forest or park before the Christmas dinner.
We haven’t had a white Christmas for a while, but who needs snow in order to enjoy time outside with their family? The only confusing thing about that are the Christmas photos that look more like autumn pictures.
Food plays a big role in a Czech Christmas, as it probably does in many other countries. Besides the sweets, candy and cookies I wrote about in the first part of this series, Christmas lunch and dinner are also a big deal here.
The majority of people have a sweet breakfast which contains Christmas cake, sweet baked dough with almonds and raisins on the top. A typical Christmas lunch is lentils with fried eggs and sausage.
A small number of Czech Christians fast during all through Christmas Day, which means that they don’t eat meat and usually have a leguminous dish named Kuba, but because of its bland taste, not everybody likes it.
The most important meal throughout the day is dinner. If you are not fasting, you eat fish soup, fried capr with potato salad and cranberry jam. Those who are not fans of fish replace it with chicken schnitzel.
People eat dinner at about 5 p.m. and when they finish eating, Ježíšek, the Czech Santa Claus, shakes the jingle bells.
Of course we don’t see him, but we can hear his bells. Then everyone runs to the decorated Christmas tree and finds many presents.
Carols and Christmas fairytales complete the atmosphere and people eat sweets and cookies.
Some families are used to celebrating with many members. Some people travel around our small republic to visit all their family members separately during the Christmas holiday. For working people, that usually means Dec. 25 and 26, but for students, the break lasts until Jan. 2.
Of all the year’s holidays and festivities, Christmas is probably the most favorite of all Czechs.
Renata Pernegrová is a Reporter with Youth Journalism International.