06-12-2003

How does a man perceive pregnancy? Are Czechs good cooks and why is every one calling the Czech president Santa Klaus? Find out more in this week's edition of Magazine with Daniela Lazarova.

This may be hard to believe but a hundred or so years ago people skied down Prague's Wenceslas Square. Not only was there very little traffic of any kind, but there was also a lot of snow at the time. However old habits die hard - and so this week Prague's inhabitants looked on in amazement as a twenty skiers made their way down Prague's Myslikova street. Unfortunately for the contestants the climate has changed a lot over the past 100 years and there wasn't a snowflake in sight to smooth the way. However they did their best, scraping their skis over the cobblestones and struggling to avoid dog excrements along the way. Two years ago a group of friends were sitting in a popular Prague sports restaurant called Kandahar, cracking jokes and drinking beer when someone suggested skiing from Prague's Strahov district to the doors of Kandahar. There was snow on the ground at the time and the enterprise proved a lot of fun. This year the competitors had a hard time keeping the tradition alive - and some of them may have doubted the sanity of their actions as they struggled to complete the course. However, all of them made it bravely to the doors of Kandahar and rewarded themselves generously for their efforts once inside.

Ivan Langer, photo: CTKIvan Langer, photo: CTK How does a man perceive pregnancy? Believe it or not men have a great many problems and questions relating to those crucial nine months - and who is more competent to help them through this stormy period of their lives than another man. Czech men are lucky -they have received advice from someone they had already placed their trust in - MP and deputy speaker of the Lower House Ivan Langer. Last week Mr. Langer published a book titled "A man's guide to pregnancy". In thirty chapters he covers the whole story - from worries about whether his sperm count is adequate to feelings of being unwanted when his wife is fully absorbed in their new born child. "If you expect your wife to show gratitude for the fact that you fathered her child, then think again, Langer says in the book. The last thing your wife will feel is gratitude." Despite all the problems of pregnancy for a first time father Mr. Langer urges Czech men to go for it because -as he says - it is an incredible experience. Is Mr. Langer playing for voter sympathy? He certainly may be because there's a lot of male camaraderie in the 80 page publication. "Don't expect anyone to ask how you feel - for nine months everyone will ask you how your wife feels," he says. 2,500 copies of the book have now hit book stores and Mr. Langer has expressed the hope that it may help to increase the birth rate in the Czech Republic.

Christmas time is linked to a great many traditions in the Czech Republic - and one of the old beliefs is that if a young woman knocks on the door of a hen house on St Ondrej's day - on the first advent weekend - and a rooster answers the knock then she is sure to get married that year. Another - somewhat more poetic way- of finding out one's fate is to pick an armful of cherry tree branches on St. Barbara's day i.e. on December 4th. You put them in water and wait. If by Xmas the branches have blossomed then you are sure to dance at your own wedding before the year is out. Although I don't know of anybody who goes round knocking on hen-houses nowadays, people still adhere to the latter tradition and cherry branches are sold at Xmas fairs across the country.

You know the moment when -crossing the border - you are asked whether you have anything to declare? Well, people occasionally get away with forgetting a thing or two. But border police are still shaking their heads over Polish tourist who "forgot" to declare 23 kilograms of gold and a bag of silver jewellery worth an estimated five million crowns. The man was crossing the Czech-Austrian border by bus when officials asked him to open up his three suitcases. Much to their surprise the bags were chock full of silver and gold.

Vaclav Klaus, photo: CTKVaclav Klaus, photo: CTK Not everyone gets the chance to ride a sleigh pulled by a real reindeer for Christmas but Czech President Vaclav Klaus is one of the lucky few. On an official visit to Sweden this week, Mr. Klaus mounted the sleigh, prodded the reindeer and off they went. He disappeared over the horizon and for a very long time there was no sign of him, one of the delegates said later. When his hosts became slightly worried about the Czech President's fate, Mr. Klaus reappeared in the distance. He explained that mid-ride the reindeer had suddenly lost the desire to move and had to be coaxed and prodded every step of the way back. However reporters loved it and on the next day the president appeared on the front page of every Czech paper - riding the reindeer sleigh - under the heading "Santa Klaus".

President Vaclav Klaus will give one very special Xmas present this year. He has announced his intention to issue his very first presidential pardon this Xmas. I think it is rather appropriate in the Xmas season, he told the media.

A pardon from President Klaus is to be highly valued - since he made it very clear from the outset that he would dispense pardons only very rarely -if he felt they were well deserved. 600 prisoners are now holding their breath. Out of 900 requests for pardon the president has so far turned down 300. 600 remain to be considered.

Are Czechs good cooks? According to their own estimation 27 per cent of Czech men and women are miserable cooks, 28 percent said they were good cooks in a restricted capacity -only certain dishes, while 45 percent of respondents said they were very good or excellent cooks with a broad scope of Czech and foreign dishes.

The daily cooking is mostly the woman's work -it is only in every fifth Czech household that the husband and wife take turns cooking dinner. However close to two thirds of Czech men admit that they CAN cook when they are in the mood for it. Men tend to have a few specialities -often family recipes -which they are very proud of and which they produce with a flourish when there's company. They usually make terrific game and use their imagination much more than women do when cooking. However there are a few strings attached - they expect a lot of praise when the masterpiece is on the table and doing the dishes is generally a no-no. How can you expect an artist to dirty his hands with the washing up?

06-12-2003