17# Christmas Around the World: Czech traditions and Superstitions.
Christmas is coming, and today is already December 17th! We are very happy because our advent calendar is truly appreciated by readers from all over the world, and every day we have really lot of visitors! Our collaborators have already tells about Christmas in Slovenia, Milanese Panettone and the traditional Christmas market in Milan, and Christmas traditions in Bulgaria.
So, Christmas is coming. It’s time to slow down, be more good (maybe), recharge batteries and spend some time with the closest friends, family, but also have fun with some Czech traditions and superstitions!
Some czech people, like me, are rather weird, and this Christmas stories are often mysterious or incredible. Some traditions were forgotten but a few one can still visible during Christmas time in a common Czech home.
Before everything revolved around consumerism, in the past people depended on the harvest and fertility of pets during the winter months. So, in this period, Magical practices supposed to ensure a good harvest in the next year, and people did not focus only on their survival but they used to tell about fortunes of their future, health, children or love. Here is a list of top then known and rather weird traditions, customs and superstitions.
The chances of getting married on the following year, bore some superstitions. An unmarried girl is supposed to throw a shoe over her shoulder and towards the door. If the shoe lands with the toe pointing towards the door, the girl will marry within a year.
On Saint Barbora’s day (December, 4th) girls used to cut the twigs of cherry trees, called Barborky, put them in the water and waited when the buds turn into the flowers. They named each bud with boys name, then that which flowered first, would be their future groom!
An unmarried girl is supposed to shake an elder tree and if a dog barks, she will marry a man who lives in the direction from which the dog bark came.
And always about love, above the table during Christmas parties there should be a bunch of mistletoe hanging. Like in other parts of Europe, It should bring the good luck and if people kiss under it, the love will stay with them in a coming year.
This is the dangerous, but people used to pour the hot molten lead into the water and, according to the resulting shape, they would predict events for the coming year. A tradition very popular until the beginning of the 20th century, however, due to the two world wars there was a shortage of this material, so this custom has been almost forgotten.
If you don’t eat meat on December 24, you’ll see golden pig flying on sky, but you don’t have to eat meat for the whole day! This prohibition is really difficult for Czechs who are real meat lovers! Since the morning of December 24th people should not touch a single piece of meat, and they expect to see Golden Pig flying on the sky in the evening. It’s really weird, but very common among Czechs. When I was kid, my brother and I were always very disappointed, because despite the whole day fasting, we have never seen any pigs.
Czech Christmas dinner on December 24 is connected with a great number of different customs, rules and superstitions. Very few of them are still observed today.
No lights should be lit in the house before the first star comes out. After it does, dinner is served.
The table should be set for an even number of guests. An odd number brings bad luck or death, and no one should sit with their back to the door. No alcohol should be served on Christmas Eve, and no one should ever get up from the Christmas table before dinner is finished. Doing so brings bad luck and death, and the first person to leave the table after dinner will be the first one to die in the coming year. Thats is why everyone should get up from the table at the same time!
During the Christmas dinner people, according to the shape of the half apple’s seeds they read a prophecy of how healthy they will be in the coming year. If a star appears, the person will be well and healthy, but If the cross appears, don’t expect anything good! The same could be done with walnuts: if the inside nut is healthy, it’s a good sign, but If it’s black, it’s a problem!
A pregnant woman will know whether she is carrying a boy or a girl once the first Christmas Eve visitor enters the house. If the visitor is female, she will have a daughter.
A pretty and still very widespread tradition is that of tell your future with the nut-boats. You can light a candle in the nut-shell and watch what will happen, and in Czech Republic both kids and adults love this tradition. The shells of walnuts are used as tiny boats with little candle inside and people let them float in a water basin. It’s really fun, but the results of the prophecy could be sometimes terrible! Watch what will happen if it…
– if it stays at the shore, do not expect any changes in the next year.
– if it sinks immediately, you will most likely die!
– if your nut-boat touches another nut-boat, expect love and friendship.
– if it makes a circle with others, no problems with coexistence, respect, friendship and tolerance.
– If it finds itself in the middle of the others, you will need a protection.
– If it finds itself outside the circle, you will leave the family.
– If your boat spins in a circle, you don’t know what you want in your life.
– If the flame of candle goes out, complicated emotional relationship is expected.
But if your boat floats to the other side of the basin, you get what you want!
Among the desires of every person, surely there is that of having a lot of money, or of being rich. This is rather weird, but carrying one carp scale in your wallet supposed to ensure you’ll become rich on the next year!
One of the main Czech Christmas dish is a fish soup and carp with potato salad. People usually buy live carp, put it in their bath-tubs and on December 24 they kill it.
If you want try, you can should save a carp’s scale and carry it in the wallet, so the money will stick to you….
If you put honey on your cheeks on December 24th, probably everyone will love you in a next year. That’s the weird one, it’s true?
Going to church on Christmas is very special for Czechs! Because Czech Republic is one of the most atheistic countries in the world, and Christmas is the only time when lot of people go to church. It is very common to have a Christmas crib at home and put Jesus inside on Christmas Eve. It seems that in Czech Republic this baby Jesus delivers the Christmas presents under the tree on December 24th.
I didn’t never understand how he could do all this, but it’s the same story of Santa Claus: let’s keep the Christmas Spirit in our hearts and just believe it!