27-12-2001

With the exception of one or two tabloids, Czech dailies do not come out on Sundays or official holidays, so today is the first day when all the papers are available, after the Christmas pause. And so it's quite natural that most of them reflect on the holiday in one way or another. On its front page Mlada fronta Dnes has a picture of Czech archbishop Miloslav Vlk serving mass in the St. Vitus Cathedral at Prague Castle on Chrismas Day.

And with children still enjoying the new toys they found under the Christmas tree on Christmas Eve, the paper looks at the fate of old toys, toys children have grown tired of. Czechs do not throw old toys away, Mlada fronta Dnes concludes. They're either given away to friends who have smaller children, or, usually before Christmas, old toys are collected and given to children in orphanages and children's homes. But the most cherished ones are put away and kept as souvenirs. That goes especially for dolls and teddy bears which most people keep in spite of the lack of space in the typically small Czech apartments.

And according to today's Lidove noviny, the collection of old toys in many families will grow after this Christmas. In the pre-Christmas shopping rush Czechs spent one third more than they did last year. Of course, much of that was spent on food and there was more shopping for skis and sleighs, than in previous years, because of the unusually large snowfall throughout the country.

The daily Pravo, on its front page, reports on the problems caused by the huge amount of snow in North Moravia, where not only villages but whole areas were cut off by snow, with the strong winds making it impossible to keep some roads open to traffic. A snow plow driver with 30 years of experience told a Pravo reporter that he had never had such a busy Christmas as this year.

But the transport problems weren't limited only to North Moravia, Pravo writes that in the South West border region, near a village called Tri sekery, that's Three Axes, the soldiers came out to help clear the roads, but their tank got trapped in the snow.

But even though many people could not go out over the holiday, they weren't really isolated. The financial daily Hospodarske noviny writes about what it calls the Christmas mobile phone craze. Thirty million mobile phone text messages were sent on Christmas Day alone.

And mobile phones were, like last year, one of the most frequent Christmas gifts. But, the paper says, there was also a considerable increase in the amount of rum sold before Christmas, up by some 25 percent. One of the reasons, Hospodarske noviny says might have been nostalgic, this might be the last year for Czech rum, not for the product itself, but for its traditional name. The tradition goes back to the 19th Century, but with the Czech Republic joining the EU, the beverage will have to have a new name, it does not meet EU standards for rum, because it is made of potatoes and sugar beet, instead of sugar cane.

27-12-2001