Czech Christmas


In this pre-Christmas time we bring you the last Czech language programme this year, and of course, it is a Christmas special. The Czech word for Christmas, Vánoce, is of German origin, from the term Weinachten, or holy nights.

The big day in Czech tradition is December 24th, Christmas Eve or ©tìdrý den. The expression means "generous day", and it is indeed generous. In the evening people find Christmas presents - vánoèní dárky - underneath their Christmas tree - vánoèní stromeèek. The main Christmas meal is served on Christmas Eve, too. According to tradition, people should be fasting on that day, but not many do. The most widespread menu for the Christmas Eve dinner is fish soup - rybí polévka, fried carp - sma¾ený kapr and potato salad - bramborový salát. After stuffing their bellies with carp, Czechs proceed to opening their presents, which unlike elsewhere are brought by the baby Jesus - Je¾í¹ek. Presents being opened, everybody can indulge in yet more eating, as there are plenty of Christmas cookies - vánoèní cukroví - in every house which the women in the families had been baking since the beginning of December, some start as early as November. Christmas Day or Bo¾í hod vánoèní, is the day when people visit their relatives, show off their Christmas presents and... eat lots again. On December 26th, ©tìpán, or St Stephen's Day, it is time to eat all the leftovers from the Christmas table and get ready to go back to work on the 27th. But not everybody is like that, of course. There are many people for whom Christmas is not just eating and watching TV. For many it is a time of silence and contemplation. Some people like to sing Christmas carols - vánoèní koledy, instead of shopping centres they go to churches to admire the variety of Nativity scenes - betlémy - or they make their own ones at home.

And that's all for this Christmas Czech language programme but next year we'll be back with a brand new series. Have a wonderful holiday and who knows, maybe you will find that Czech dictionary you've been longing for underneath your Christmas tree. Merry Christmas. Veselé Vánoce.


See also Living Czech.