Czech Christmas (Vánoce)
many, December 24 (Štědrý den) is the most enjoyable
day of Christmas holidays. Its Czech name literally
means "Generous Day", probably for the wealth
of food that has traditionally been served for Christmas
dinner and fed to household and farm animals. Even poor families would make sure that their plates
were full on
this one day of the year.
24 is Adam and Eva's name day. The Christmas tree is
decorated with traditional Czech Christmas ornaments
in many households and preparations are made for the most
festive dinner of the year. Christmas
Eve is associated with many superstitions that usually
relate to life, love, and destiny that awaits one in the
year to come. According to one Czech Christmas custom,
one is supposed to fast all day to see the "golden
piglet" (zlaté prasátko) in the evening.
Visit our Czech
Christmas Customs and Superstitions page for a
is served after sunset (traditionally, it should not
be served until after the first star has come out) and
consists of carp and potato salad, sometimes preceded
by mushroom, sauerkraut or fish soup. Did you know that
carp can supposedly be prepared a hundred different ways?
Christmas carp is specially raised in manmade ponds and then sold from large tubs placed
on the streets and town squares a few days before
Christmas. You will not see this sight at any other
time of the year. Some families keep their carp in
the bathtub for several days as a temporary pet for
their children... Dinner can be finished with dessert,
such as apple strudel. A traditional Christmas bread
called vánočka (similar to the Jewish challa) used to be a part of the Christmas dinner in the past but today it has largely
lost its Christmas connotation and is available year-round.
After dinner, everyone around
the table may sing Christmas carols before moving to the
Christmas tree, which is all lit up
By then, presents have been placed under the tree.
Czech children believe that Christmas
gifts are brought by Baby Jesus (Ježíšek)
who comes into the room through the window to leave
the presents. Unlike Santa Claus, Baby
Jesus is a rather abstract figure with no particular
him, and no one knows where he lives. Just
like Santa though, he receives wish-list letters
from Czech children a few weeks before Christmas.
Some people end Christmas Eve by attending
the midnight mass (půlnoční
mše) at a local church. It usually starts at midnight but some churches hold it earlier, such as at 10 p.m. There can also be a Christmas Mass for children in the afternoon.
Czech Republic Christmas stretches over December
25 and 26, which are also referred to as the First and
Second Christmas Holidays, or the Christmas Feast (Boží
and St. Stephen's Day (Sv. Štěpán). On St.
Stephen's Day, children, students, teachers, and the poor
used to go around people's homes singing Christmas carols.
Nowadays, families stay
at home and
relatives and friends to
share the special
Czech Christmas Customs and Superstitions
Czech Christmas and New Year's Greetings
in Prague -
Christmas markets, Christmas event calendar, opening times, December