Christmas is really almost here and regardless whether you bought all the presents you wanted, baked Christmas cookies, clean your house and sent the holidays cards, it will come in just couple of days. Last year we wrote a blog post about Magical Czech Christmas, where you can learn about how idyllic Czech Christmas can be with traditions, great food and family contentment. This year we thought we could give you more realistic Czech Christmas. So get ready, here is Christmas (24th December) at Tereza’s family.

Morning Struggle

  • Everyone wakes up all excited to learn what Ježíšek will bring this year and to enjoy the day of festivities, but soon we learn that there is still of last minute decorating, presents wrapping, cooking and cleaning.
  • The tradition says that if you will not eat the whole day, you will see golden pick in the evening. Uff – what to do? The Christmas cookies looks so good! As we are weak, we do the softer version of this tradition and just do not eat any meat the whole day.
  • Christmas is a magical time also on TV. There are great fairy tales on throughout the holidays. Will you help out with preparations, or will you get comfy on the couch?
  • In our family, we ask the person selling the fish to kill the carp for us and my grandmother guts it. But it is quite common to buy carp alive and kill it at home. But who will be the brave one to do it? Believe it or not, often the ladies of the house do it.

Afternoon Madness

  • When we were younger, we used to go out with grandparents to the park to go sledding, or just to go out to get “out of the way”. When we came back, we were not allowed to go to the living room any more as Ježíšek needed privacy to get everything ready. In our family, Ježíšek also brought the Christmas tree.
  • The preparations are peaking. My mom is running here and there. My dad is cranky as everything he does is “wrong” in my mom eyes and she runs behind him and correct his “mistakes”.
  • Everyone looks at the clock and cannot believe how fast the time is going and hoping that the other family members, who are coming for the evening, will be late. But they are usually at least 15 minutes early.

Peaceful Evening

  • The table is set and candles lid, Christmas tree decorated and buried in presents, food smells in the air and the time has come for everyone to sit around the Christmas table. We toast and say two phrases 1. “Pokoj lidem dobré vůle” – Peace with people of good will and 2. “Vzpomeňme těch, kteří tu s námi už nejsou” – Remember those, who are not with us anymore.
  • We pick the best apple we have at home and cut it horizontally to hope to see a beautiful star, which will mean happiness and health for everyone.
  • Before we start to eat, we peak underneath the plate to see whether a fish scale is hidden there. By the end of the evening, we put the scale into our wallets, so we have no money problems next year.
  • Then we eat fish soup and for a main meal potatoes salad and fried carp. Carp is a quite bonny fish, so there is always someone coughing out a bone. But somehow we never drove to the hospital on Christmas Eve. Wish us luck this year!
  • After dinner, we sail little boats (walnut shells with candles) in the bath tub. It is another fortunate telling tradition. You observe how much your candle moves around to decide whether you will travel, or stay at home. It is tricky, if the boat sinks it is bad luck. So we make sure to stop this activity before this happens. It is not good to know too much about your future, right?
  • When Ježíšek is done. He rings the bell to let us know, we all go to the Christmas tree, sing carols and unwrapped presents.
  • The best part of the whole day is probably when the extended family leaves, the dishes are cleaned and wine glasses filled. Then we usually play a board game, or watch some fairy tales on TV.

On the 25th my aunt with her family comes over for a breakfast and we go to grandparents for lunch - baked duck. The 26th December is still a public holiday in the Czech Republic. When were younger we used to go to the mountains. Now we usually just enjoy some rest:)

So this is how our Christmas is. Not really the holiday of peace, but we loved it anyway and we are super sad when it is over. Is your Christmas similar? What traditions do you hold?