23-12-2003

Since Czechs celebrate Christmas on the 24th, Tuesday's papers are the last to come out before the Christmas holidays and all of them are brightly garbed and bearing the annual message of goodwill. Mlada Fronta Dnes has covered its front page with infants - the offspring of eight famous couples. Pravo has last minute advice for parents: spinning tops and stinking plastic figures known as "stinkers" are the hottest presents for kids this year.

In the midst of all this Christmas cheer is the smiling face of Pavel Nedved who was named European Footballer of the Year by France Football Magazine. Nedved has become a hero overnight and snapshots of him cradling the coveted prize are splashed across most front pages. Pravo even sports family photos of little Nedved - aged two, nine and on graduation day. A Czech on the throne again after 41 years, says Lidove Noviny with pride.

As usual at this time of year journalists have gone out of their way to give readers a glimpse into the private lives of people in the limelight - politicians, sportspeople, actors and singers. So, Mlada Fronta Dnes readers are told about the toys that President Klaus got for Christmas when he was four and that his favourite game was building factories from piles of wooden bricks.

The same paper boasts an exclusive report on the pop idol of several generations Karel Gott - titled "I will spend the Christmas holidays visiting all my children". The paper says that public figures and pop stars all spend Christmas in traditional style -with family and friends. And to prove it, it has a rare photo of the Czech Ombusman, Mr. Motejl caught in the act of stuffing himself with Christmas cookies. The Ombudsman says he will spend much of Christmas building a huge family nativity scene which his grandfather started and which now has over one hundred figures and several dozen dwellings.

Lidove Noviny says that Czechs have taken to a new form of charity -long distance adoptions of whole families. With every year people's willingness to donate to charity grows, the head of one charity organization told the paper. Of late people have taken to the idea of adopting a child or entire family in Africa, India or Peru, there is also a charity which enables people to help needy families in Chechnya and another interesting project is helping to save a tree and care for it, the paper says. People like to see who or what their money has helped.

And finally all the papers carry detailed reports about the fairy tales that the country's TV stations will be showing over Christmas. Czechs love fairy tales and Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without them, so TV programme directors have an easy job at this time of year - Mlada Fronta Dnes says - pack the five days of leave with fairy tales - from the 1950s to the present day.

Many viewers have seen these favourites over twenty times and are already looking forwards to seeing them again. Most people will pick their favourites but an estimated three million Czechs allegedly plan to spend Christmas on the sofa - watching everything that's showing from early morning till well past midnight.

23-12-2003