Holiday Traditions

Discussion in 'Culture' started by stepan, Nov 20, 2006.

  1. stepan

    stepan Well-Known Member

    As a Czech growing up in the US, we held to our traditions for the Christmas Season. However, through the years, because of marrying a non-Czech and my parents passing away, I have forgotten many of these traditions.

    I know that on December 6, St. Nicholas Day, we put out stockings on the windows for St Nicholas to fill. That is all I remember, not the reasons for it, not when they were put out and not when they were filled. Can someone fill in these gaps.

    Also, I remember that when we lived in Germany, we lived in a Czech community and on St. Niclolas Day, St Nicholas visited our apartment with an angel and the Devil. Please fill in the why's and wherefore's.

    On Christmas Eve, we held that as a day of fast, we had a traditional diner of fish chowder, fried fish, potato salad and for dessert, apple strudel. I have kept that tradition at my home over the years, but the reason for all this has been forgotten.

    Also, we received our gifts on Christmas Eve, unlike the US tradition of Christmas Morning. Please provide the reason for that.

    If there is anything else about the Christmas Holidays that can be filled in, please provide, so I may pass this on to my children. Maybe we can resurect some of the other customs to make it a bit more Czech.

    Thank You.
  2. eso

    eso Well-Known Member

  3. eso

    eso Well-Known Member

    Time of gifts receiving differs around the world:

    It is also seen as the night when Santa Claus or his international variants, make their rounds giving gifts to good children. In the Czech Republic, where St. Nicholas (sv. Mikuláš) gave his sweet gifts already more than two weeks earlier, is Ježíšek, that is Child Jesus, the Christmas gift-giver. In Italy presents are opened on the morning of Christmas Eve, while in Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Portugal and Poland, Christmas presents are opened on that evening, and in the United States, the United Kingdom, Ireland and Australia mostly on the morning of Christmas Day. In Finland Joulupukki personally meets children and gives presents in the evening of Christmas Eve. Latin American countries wait until 12:00 am to start opening presents. In most parts of Germany, Austria and Switzerland Christmas presents are opened in the evening of December 24th ('Bescherung'). In Spain and Latin America gifts are opened on the morning of January 6, Epiphany day ("Día de Los Reyes"). In Iceland Christmas starts at 6:00 p.m. on Christmas Eve.

  4. stepan

    stepan Well-Known Member

    Thank you - some bring back memories like the even number of people at the Christmas Eve Dinner. As a boy, my father would fish and mother always saved some carp in the freezer for Christmas Eve dinner - it was bony but good.

    These are historical traditions that can be found on the Internet and are based on different written things. However, what I wish to know is what the REAL traditions are and what the people are keeping as traditions. What do the families that are on this Forum do?

    Has Christianity and its customs gone by the wayside in the Czech Republic. I know that 50 years of Communism has had it's toll on the churches. However, the people of the Czech Republic, the homeland of Jan Hus, have always been very traditional in thier beliefs and have maintained their customs, no matter what the circumstances.
  5. eso

    eso Well-Known Member

    Well, you probably know, that Czech republic is most secular and atheistic country in the world. There is thread about it: ... php?t=6247

    Second, please specify, which Christitan customs do you have in mind and I tell you, if they are celebrated in CR.
    Christmass tree for example isn't Christian custom.

    You probably know, that Christmas are successor of pagan solstice celebration nad Jesus wasn't born in December, but probably in the spring.
  6. stepan

    stepan Well-Known Member

    Yes, I am aware that manny "Christian " customs are really pagen ones repackaged to relate to Christianity.

    I agree, many people relate Christianity to the Roman Catholic Church. Unfortunately, there are many non-Roman religions that have deep roots in the traditional beliefs. Many "new" religions have come about in the last 100+ years, especially in the US and are spreading their beliefs around the world and trying to convert the world to their beliefs. Many are over zealous and give all missionaries a bad name.

    Going back to customs. I guess my question is geared to the families who have a Christian belief and adhere to the old customs fo their grandparents. Please provide how you celebrate the Christmas season.
  7. eso

    eso Well-Known Member

    Many people going to Christmas Eve's midnight mass - even if they are nobelievers.

    About other customs, my grandparents were Catholic and their Christmass werent different from ours. Typical customs are foretelling the future from apples, floating of walnut shells and pouring of lead.
    My mother believe, that nobody should get up during Christmas evening dinner.
  8. dzurisova

    dzurisova Well-Known Member

    Eso, are you saying that at Christmas time you and your family actual participate in these customs such as foretelling the future from apples, the walnut shells and pouring of lead?

    I'm just curious?
  9. eso

    eso Well-Known Member

    Well, we were, when me and my brother were young :)
    Of course we really didn't believed in fortune telling, but it was nice family time.

    I specially enjoyed floating of walnut shells with glowing little candles in bathtub in darkened bathroom.
    If your walnut rolled out from others, it meant you will go to long journey.
    If your candle expired soon, it meant you soon die :)

    We tried once to pour of lead (actually it was tin solder ) in water, but it sizzled horribly :)

  10. dzurisova

    dzurisova Well-Known Member

    Wow, it's really cool that you had some fun things like that to do. When I read the article, I thought people participated in those customs in the 1700's and before. When I heard that you still did them, I was amazed. Why don't you still participate in them? Since you simply did them for fun but didn't believe, why don't you still do them for fun?

    Again, just curious. Curiosity killed the cat and may one day kill me as well. But I'm rebuking that curse! :wink: :lol:
  11. eso

    eso Well-Known Member

    Probably, you know, I'm adult now and everything is hasty and for this you need whole family to participate (otherwise it's not right)...

    But when I will have chidren, I will do it with them :)
  12. alenastef

    alenastef Well-Known Member

  13. DanielZ

    DanielZ Well-Known Member


    I am always baffled to hear about fasting on December 24th. I am a Roman Catholic, and in the Catholic Church, in modern times, there has never been a fast on this day.

    So, whence comes this fast and why?

    Is it possible that people want to mirror Holy Saturday, the last day of Lent or Triduum, which used to have a fast on that day prior to Vatican II (in the old Latin Mass days.)

    If the fast is religious, then I find it strange that one would fast all day then not go to Mass. It doesn't add up. So maybe the fast is more of a personal constitution thing?

    ("carol" is the correct spelling :lol: )

  14. eso

    eso Well-Known Member

    Fasting is only until evening dinner and it's because golden piglet!!! ;)

    Maybe it's even pre-christian custom. Pig was symbol of sun and winter solstice.
  15. gypzy

    gypzy Well-Known Member

    Does this mean that you light the old fashioned wax candles, or no lighting at all?
  16. alenastef

    alenastef Well-Known Member

    No, there is plenty of candles. A candle is a candle. It means wax and fire. Real wax and real fire.
  17. DanielZ

    DanielZ Well-Known Member


    why the fast though? (read my above post)

  18. alenastef

    alenastef Well-Known Member

  19. durk

    durk Well-Known Member

    Yes it is the same in my family, exactly.
  20. dzurisova

    dzurisova Well-Known Member

    I don't know if it's true of most Czech families but my husband says they fast so that they will be hungry enough to eat like pigs at dinner. It's more of fasting in anticipation of the good food at dinner time. I think many Americans do that on Thanksgiving. Most Americans don't eat much or not at all throughout the day because they know they will eat like pigs at Thanksgiving dinner.

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