Every country has their own different way of celebrating holidays. So why not take a look at how Christmas is celebrated in the Czech Republic? A lot of things are very similar, but for instance, unlike in Britain or United States, we get presents on the 24th after dinner. Unfair, isn’t it?
But, let’s start with morning of the 24th. The 24th of December is called “Štědrý den” (Generous Day). So for us, Christmas Eve is not the day before Christmas but it is actually Christmas. One of the traditions is that the Christmas tree is decorated in the morning. The trees should be natural ones, but it’s of course possible to buy an artificial one. After all, this is the century of plastic. Children are usually not allowed to enter the room where the Christmas tree is, until later when they hear the bell tinkle signalizing that Ježíšek (Baby Jesus) came with the presents. The rest of the day is spent by cleaning, cooking, packing presents, watching fairy tales on TV and, of course, looking forward to the evening. We also don’t eat anything (or much) so that we will be able to see a gold piglet on the wall.
The traditional Christmas dishes are fish soup, fried carp with potato salad and cukroví (Christmas cookies). Moms and grandmas bake cukroví during the whole December and make competitions about who has the most different kinds.
And then, after dinner, it is the right time for presents! The whole family gathers by the tree and presents are given and unwrapped. We might also sing some Christmas carols. After that, some people (even non-Christians) go to the special Christmas mass, Midnight Mass. It’s possible to watch it on TV as well.
25th and 26th are usually spent with wider family, for example with grandparents. It’s common that children get presents at their grandparents’ houses as well.
And don’t forget, one of the old customs says you should put one of the carp’s scale into your wallet so that your money won’t run out the next year. In case you find this interesting and would like to learn more, here you can find more traditions, customs and superstitions related to Christmas in the Czech Republic.
So, how do you spend Christmas? Does your family have any special traditions?