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.
Decorating Christmas Tree
Some families are waiting for Christmas Day or the evening before to decorate their Christmas tree. It takes some time and children have fun decorating the tree. Although some people decorate trees at the beginning of Advent time, to prolong the relaxing Christmas holidays as much as possible. Some parents decorate the tree secretly the night before Christmas when children are sleeping. It is a great surprise for the little ones in the morning when they see a Christmas tree in the living room. It really doesn’t matter when the tree stands, the most important thing is to meet around it on Christmas Day with your closest family members.
Watching Fairy Tales
People in the Czech Republic spend most of their Christmas Day by watching traditional Christmas fairy tales, especially in the evening. There are countless Czech and American Christmas movies on television that we usually can’t decide which one to watch. It’s a great way to relax and wait for Ježíšek to bring presents!
In the evening, usually around 5 or 6 PM, the whole family gathers at the Christmas table and serves traditional carp with potato salad, although in some families it is replaced by pork, chicken or other fish. We must not forget the sweets, which consists of traditional Czech Christmas cookies.
After dinner, there is usually time for Ježíšek and Christmas presents. Parents or children may sing Christmas carols when they come to the Christmas tree, which is all lit up. Children believe that the presents are brought by Ježíšek, who comes into the house through the window and places the presents under the Christmas tree.
Adults may end Christmas Eve by attending the midnight mass at church. The mass typically starts at midnight but some churches hold it earlier. There can also be a Christmas Mass for children in the afternoon around 4 o’clock before dinner.
Typical Traditions on Christmas Eve
- under each plate, coins or carp scales are placed to keep money in the family
- anyone who will fast all Christmas can see the Golden Pig
- on Christmas Eve, the “eternal light”, also known as the Bethlehem light is brought home from the Church
- Christmas cake (Vánočka) – one of the main Christmas traditions
- people sing Christmas carols
- after Christmas Eve dinner, the apples are cut across – whoever finds a star in it will have health and happiness the following year
- a twig of mistletoe belongs to the Christmas decoration, it is hung so that it is possible to walk under it or kiss under it – brings a love for the following year
- launching walnut pumps with a lighted candle in a bowl or sink – can answer a question or predict the future
How do you like our customs and traditions? Hopefully, you enjoyed the Advent Calendar – 24 days full of Christmas tips. We hope we have made Christmas time more pleasant in these challenging times. Keep an eye on our social media and subscribe to our winter newsletter.
Merry Christmas to you all! <3