A Prague Christmas and Horses in the Czech Republic
Greetings from RAMM’s Mystery Reporter. I am Guest Hosting this post and wanted to share a story with our readers. MR once upon a time lived overseas, in Europe, in what most people know as Czechoslovakia – but today is known as the Czech Republic. He spent over six wonderful years there – and every single Christmas spent there was always an adventure. I thought I’d share with you some of the more interesting facets of a Czech Christmas, with a little help from prague.net.
It is a bit strange how Czechs love and follow most of the Christmas traditions although many Czechs do not profess a religion. Since Christmas have Christian roots, one could easily jump into conclusion when watching the Czech people around Christmas time that the whole country is very religious. However, the opposite is true.
Nevertheless, everybody just loves Christmas! Even Czech atheists. Czech Christmas are accompanied with many nice traditions that are still alive. You can see it with your own eyes for example on the Old Town Square. There is a big Bethlehem manger scene – little baby Jesus with his parents in a barn. Little version of this scene is in all Czech flats on the Christmas Eve, no matter if you believe in God or not. It just belongs to Christmas.
Another tradition that belongs to Christmas is cutting few branches of a fruit tree on December 5th and bringing them home. If those branches come into flower on the Christmas Eve it means that a girl in the family will get married within a year. My branches usually bloom too soon! But maybe this year, who knows.
My favorite tradition is the one connected with the Christmas Eve dinner. Czechs eat carp, not turkey or anything else, but fried carp. When preparing the food you have to clean it from fish-scales and that is when Czech tradition comes in hand. If you put one clean fish-scale into your wallet it should bring you more money into your wallet in the new year. I am practicing this one every year. I have to say I am more or less successful.
And one great tradition for all who suffer from diabetes – Czechs bake tons of special sweets all December long. Then finally on Christmas Eve you serve it on a nice plate and eat it while opening the presents. It is really great!! Then of course your New Year’s resolution is to lose all the extra weight you just gained!
Now, this Mystery Reporter witnessed many of these traditions every year. It was always a magical time walking the streets in Prague during December. I remember the carp vividly – they were always on every corner. The Czech family I lived with said the kids would always bring the carp home a few days before the Christmas feast. They would have a ‘pet’ to watch swim in the bathtub, then their ‘pet’ – which they always gave a name to – would magically appear later on the dinner table. I know! A little odd to imagine, but the Czech’s have so many traditions like this one, and as their history stretches back in Prague over 1,000 years – traditions show up around every corner on the holidays.
I lived in Prague from 1993 and returned to the USA right before the new millenium. It was an amazing time to be in Prague: history was being made, tourists were just discovering this magical country, and the holiday season was always so bold and wonderful. You would walk the streets every day, shopping at Christmas markets in the squares, and run into friends on the streets. You would pick up a variation of Mulled Wine (Svařák) – spiced and hot and amazing – you would just see an entire national capital come alive!
Also, you couldn’t help but smile at the decorated horse-drawn carriages all over town and how smiles would just pop onto children’s faces everywhere you turned. Horses always had been in Prague and probably always will be. They just add such a nice historical look and feel to this wonderful, medieval town. I wish all of our readers the most magical Christmas season – and if you ever truly want to witness one of the gems of the world, you must make a special pilgrimage during the holiday season to visit Middle Europe, and Prague!
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