Janek and Honza from Honest Guide made another awesome video explaining most of the Czech Christmas traditions. If you plan to spend the advent season in Prague, make sure to get to know at least few of them and try them out.
The most important is the date. We do celebrate Christmas Eve on December 24, and we don’t have Santa Claus. Instead, we have a baby Jesus a.k.a. “Jezisek”. Typically, the whole family will gather for a dinner, celebrate together and give each other presents.
Overall, we eat a lot of food during Christmas, and not just for Christmas dinner. Everyone bakes homemade sweets called “cukrovi” and sweet bread called “vanocka”. You can see both in Janek’s video below
Typical Czech Christmas traditions include:
- Cutting an apple in the middle – a star means you will live and a cross means you will die within a year. Maybe a bit of a morbid one, but fortunately it’s almost impossible to actually get a cross
- Eating fried carp (or schnitzel, definitely not salmon) with potato salad for Christmas Eve dinner
- Putting coins and carp scale under the plate to make the following year full of money
- Ringing a bell after dinner and gathering around the Christmas tree with presents
- Singing or listening to Czech Christmas carols and watching fairytales on the TV
- Lighting up “frantisek”, a perfumed coal and “prskavky”, small sparkling fireworks
And yes, Czechs really do acquire a live carp and put it in the bathtub for a few days. Some people will release the carp to the river on the Christmas Day (December 24) and some will have it for dinner. No matter what, the carp will unfortunately die anyway because he won’t survive the change between chlorinated and regular water.