Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Czech, Slovakian and Hungarian Christmas Traditions

This month I decided to research Christmas traditions of some of the countries I have visited since one of my travel goals is to spend Christmas in a foreign country.
Last week I posted about Denmark and Sweden - this week it is the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary.
I visited Hungary in 2007 and the Czech Republic (with a quick side trip to Slovakia) in 2008.
Once again I riffled through some old photos scanned and cleaned them up in Photoshop. I know they aren't Christmassy, but I'll post those sometime in the future when I spend a Christmas in Eastern Europe!

Czech Christmas Traditions
  • Carp is the featured dish on Christmas Eve
  • Christmas Eve dinner is filled with traditions and superstitions foretelling the coming year, marriages and wealth
  • Certain foods must be consumed at the Christmas dinner to bring good luck  - including garlic, honey, mushrooms, Vánočka (Christmas bread), and apples
  • The tree is decorated on Christmas Eve
  • Baby Jesus (Ježíšek) brings presents – not Santa
  • Children leave the room and do not reenter until a bell has rung – indicating that Jesus has left the presents for the children
  • St. Mikulas (St. Nicholas) brings presents in early December

Read about my brief Slovakian adventure here.
  • Traditions and superstitions regarding the future(similar to those in the Czech Republic) are carried out during the celebrations that center on family
  • The tree is decorated on Christmas Eve
  • Some Slovakians fast before the big meal
  • On Christmas Eve there is a feast and breaking and eating wafers precedes the meal
  • A white table cloth representing the Christ Child’s swaddling is used on the table for the feast
  • The Christmas Eve meal consists of twelve dishes for the number of apostles
  • Straw is spread around the house to represent the manger
  • Just like in the Czech Republic Baby Jesus (Ježíšek) brings presents – not Santa
  • Santa’s counterpart is Father Frost (I rather like that name!)
  • Hungarians countdown to Christmas with Advent calendars and wreaths
  • Christmas trees are never decorated until Christmas Eve
  • Decorations stay in the house – never outside (hear that Clark Griswold?!)
  • Christmas is an intimate family celebration and Hungarians do not typically go to parties
  • On December 6th the Day of St. Nicholas children leave shoes on window seals overnight in the expectation of receiving gifts
Budapest, Hungary
St. Stephen's Cathedral - Budapest, Hungary


1 comment:

  1. Fascinating!

    St Nicholas is a big deal for children in Belgium and Holland as well!