In just a few days baby Jesus will come with gifts! We celebrate Christmas Eve on 24th of December in the Czech Republic. After dinner we all gather around the Christmas tree and we unpack gifts. But time from morning to evening is so long, so what we do?
It is said that if you do not eat anything all day you would see a golden pig. We usually eat the Christmas dinner at about 5 or 6 when the first stars appear. Several years ago, there was a TV advertisement which makes fun of this tradition in a lighthearted way.
Can you imagine how hard could it be not to taste any of the amazing Christmas sweets or chocolate or fruits? Yes? You can make it a bit easier with some other Christmas traditions. One of them is cutting an apple. If you cut the apple in half and you find a star there, you will be lucky next year. If you find a cross, it means illness. If you like reading the future, try pouring some molten lead. You need a flame and bowl with water. Melt a small piece of lead in the flame, pour it in the bowl of water and guess your future based on the shape of the cast lead.
You can also read the future from walnut shells. It is not that common, we usually make tiny boats with candles out of these shells, which you then put on the edge of a bowl of water. Pour some wax in a walnut shell, and use it to stick a candle in the shell; make sure it is not a large candle, otherwise the boat tips over. If your boat goes away from edge, you will travel in the next year. And if your ship does not tip over in the water, you will have a long and happy life.
Some girls also throw their shoes. It is not a tradition for boys. Girls turn their back towards a door and throw one of their shoes. If the tip of a shoe faces the door, she will marry and she will leave her home, otherwise she would stay home for another year. Also, we do not wash our clothes on Christmas Eve and New Year´s Eve, it is bad luck.
If you don´t care about the golden pig, you can eat sweet bread, vánočka, for breakfast. It´s tasty bread with almonds and raisins. We eat carp or schnitzel with potato salad. You can buy a live carp and let it swim in a bathtub, the kids love it. But after that you have to either kill it or just buy fillets. We eat soup before the main course – pea or fish soup.
We also have traditions for the dinner. Always serve an extra plate for the people, who could not be there with you. You can hide fish scales under the plates as a symbol of wealth; it is said that keeping the fish scales on you for the year will make you rich. Everyone also has to stay seated at the table for the entire duration of the dinner, otherwise the dead could take the empty seat.
As we mentioned earlier, Baby Jesus is the one who brings presents. Children write him a letter with their wishes and if they are good all year, he gives them their dream gifts. We spend all day with our family and we watch fairy tales together, for example Three wishes for Cinderella, or also the universally favourite film called Pelíšky.
One last tip – be creative with wrapping your gifts, talk to your family and friends, be happy, play some games. Enjoy the day!
Merry Christmas from ESN CZ!