Most of us are used to British Christmas traditions such as Santa Claus, Christmas crackers, and roast dinners. But have you ever wondered what Christmas is like in Czech Republic?
At CEL Solicitors, we like to promote diverse and inclusive narratives through the work of our diversity committee. Legal advisor, Karin writes about how she CELebrates traditional Czech Christmas.
Christmas in Czech Republic
In Czech Republic, we CELebrate Christmas on 24th December, and we get our presents from Ježíšek (baby Jesus or ‘Christ Child’).
As they say, this is the most wonderful time of the year and usually there is snow in Czech Republic over Christmas which makes it even more magical.
I remember I used to love Christmas day as a child. In the morning we would wake up to our Christmas tree decorated and perfectly lit up – it was so magical.
My mum would always wait for us to fall asleep the night before so that she could decorate the tree. As we got older, we would start doing this together.
My mum would also cook the soup for Christmas dinner the next day. Sometimes it was broth and sometimes it was a soup from sauerkraut (cabbage).
On Christmas morning, we would get vánočka, a traditional Christmas bread in Czech, and hot cocoa for breakfast. As children, we would watch Christmas movies or listen to Christmas carols all day. We would also put some cukroví, Czech Christmas cookies, on the table.
In the afternoon, we’d be really excited for dinner, which is usually served once it gets dark outside. We always made sure we had a table set for an additional guest who may arrive unannounced. There’s always room for more, as after all, 24th December is called Štědrý den, which in English translates to ‘Generous day’.
For dinner we would have soup followed by carp or schnitzel with potato salad. Many Czech families eat deserts afterwards, such as apple strudel. We never did in our house though, as we would all get very excited for Ježíšek to visit us with our gifts. The tradition goes that Ježíšek visits families after dinner through their window and leaves presents under the Christmas tree, similar to the story of Santa Claus.
Once everybody exchanged their presents, we would play games or watch movies. As we got older, we would enjoy good conversations with a bit of a drink. Mum would bring us homemade eggnog which we would enjoy in the evening.
Afterwards, we would go to the town square or church for Midnight Mass. This would wrap up our beautiful Christmas day and night.
Czech Christmas in the UK
Both my partner and I are originally from Czech Republic. We try our best to keep Czech traditions alive for our six-year-old daughter, Veronica. We try to combine both Czech and British Christmases.
We usually put our Christmas tree up on the 1st December and celebrate Czech Christmas as usual on the 24th.
We make sure Veronica knows about Ježíšek, and how he brings her presents under the tree (just a few though, as her main CELebration is in on the 25th).
We always go for a short walk around the block to look for Ježíšek in the sky. It helps that we live close to the airport where there are always bright lights in the sky.
While we’re on our walk, one of the adults quickly returns home for a ‘toilet break’ and places presents under the Christmas tree. Luckily, our daughter never gets suspicious. I hope it stays this way for a little longer.
Once we all go to sleep and wake up the next day on the 25th, we will celebrate British Christmas, which I’m sure we all know how that’s celebrated!