It’s the morning of December 24. The long-awaited day has come – Christmas Eve. The cookies are baked, everything is beautifully tidy, the decorated Christmas tree smells gorgeously and the family is together. How do we – Czechs spend Christmas Day? In fact, each family has its own customs and traditions, but let’s see what activities are most common during this magical day.
Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without carols. While many people prefer modern Christmas songs, it’s usually the traditional carols people prefer to sing. After all, they are usually much less difficult to sing as they – at least in most cases – don’t require large vocal range and good singing skills. Not everybody can, for example, manage to sing the main song from Tři oříšky pro Popelku. So it is no wonder that the carol Veselé vánoční hody is one of the most popular ones in the Czech Republic.
Joyful Christmas is celebrated in almost all countries around the world! The period and process depend on cultural and religious customs. Who gives presents on Christmas Eve in the Czech Republic? One of the traditional symbols of Czech Christmas is Ježíšek, in English “Christ Child”, who brings Christmas presents and places them for children under the Christmas tree.
If someone told you that there is a famous poem about Christmas Eve you’d probably think that it must be some warm story about a beautiful snowy Christmas. If that’s the case then I have to disappoint you. The poem “Christmas Eve” (“Štědrý den” in Czech) was written by K. J. Erben, and it’s a dark tale about foretelling the future on Christmas eve. But don’t worry, the actual tradition is much less gloomy.
As some of you surely know, “Good King Wenceslas” is a popular British Victorian carol. Whether you have already known this fact or just now learnt about it, you are probably wondering what it has to do with Czech Christmas. Truth be told, this carol is not sung in the Czech Republic, yet there is a significant connection to the country’s history.
There are many beautiful Czech carols but only very few of them have such an interesting story behind them as the carol Narodil se Kristus Pán. To be honest, it is usually because most of them are folk carols which means that their (hi)story is difficult to trace. Narodil se Kristus Pán is, however, an exception to this rule. There are actually some facts about this particular song that even Czechs are often completely unaware of.
There are many popular Christmas pastries, desserts, and sweets to chose from when celebrating Christmas in the Czech Republic. One of them is Vanilla Crescents, vanilkové rohlíčky in Czech. When baked well, they basically melt in your mouth – almost like a piece of cloud. But to bake them to be this perfect is quite tricky. So what does one have to do to achieve that level of perfection?
Carols are an essential part of Christmas and there are some which are popular in every country where Christmas is celebrated. Everyone knows, for example, Silent Night or Jingle Bells. However, different countries also have their own popular carols that are sung along with these two and the Czech Republic is no exception. One of the most popular ones is Chtíc, aby spal – a baroque carol composed by Adam Václav Michna z Otradovic and this year you can sing it with us!
Countless traditions come with Christmas. Do you know what is the most popular advent holiday in the Czech Republic? Saint Nicholas Day (Svatý Mikuláš) in Czech – the charming tradition of St. Nicholas falls on the eve of St. Nicholas Day, December 5. It is one of the few originally folk traditions in our country that has survived to this day. Did you know about St. Nicholas?