Tradition or Superstition--Have Your Pick

People have told me that Czechs are superstitious.  I don't know if I agree, but I have heard rumors of Czechs chiding women for sitting on the floor, arguing it will cool their ovaries and make them infertile.  I  tend to think of Czechs and Slovaks as merely having a strong traditional heritage.  Many such traditions are said to bring luck, wealth, or health.  I was able to observe some of those traditions over my Christmas holiday in nearby Slovakia.

I took some liberties with decorating and found inspiration from
aboriginal and native American art.
One difference I observed before the holidays began was while I was baking cookies.  I've already noted that Christmas baking is quite proliferous here, and when I arrived in Slovakia, the baking continued.  The doughs had already been prepared and I helped cut them into various shapes.  In the states, these would likely include trees, stars, bells, maybe nativity animals or a manger.  Here they included stars, hearts, flowers, and any number of things--including pigs and fish.  The traditional Christmas dishes are carp and potato salad.  That could be the reason a fish was included, the pig is a bit more complicated.

The morning of Christmas Eve, we had breakfast and my host told me to eat up because we wouldn't eat again until dinner.  (I soon found that cookies were excluded from the "fasting.")  I have also heard that people fast the entire day up till dinner--this is to ensure the appearance of the golden pig.  I am not sure why it is desirable to see the golden pig, but it's tradition.  Also, I have heard that pork is eaten at Silvestr (new year's eve--named for the name day of December 31st), because eating poultry or fish could cause your luck to fly or swim away.

Before Christmas dinner, a 20 euro bill was slipped under the table without explanation, I am guessing it was to bring wealth on the coming year.  We began the meal with the passing of a sweet light wafer.  Our hostess put a cross of honey on it and said, "so your year will be sweet."  On the other end of the table, one of the girls cut an apple in half.  The star inside wasn't very prominent, but the tradition is that  the star is a sign of a year filled with health and happiness.  I have heard of some other Christmas traditions, like floating walnut shells or throwing shoes, but we didn't go into these traditions.  After dinner, a bell was rung to warn Ježíšek--baby Jesus--that we were coming to the living room, so he should hurry and finish delivering gifts and leave.  That's right, baby Jesus delivers gifts here.  I'm not sure if this would be more or less confusing for children distinguishing between facts and superstition/legend than Santa Claus.  Overall, I enjoyed observing the holiday with a few more traditions and I look forward to seeing the celebration of Easter here in the spring.


  1. OK...that was pretty fascinating!That and educational for sure Charity! Thanks again for sharing one of the most interesting blogs that is always fun!

  2. Love this post - your cookies are beautiful, and I was fascinated by these traditions. I miss not having something similar here to mark the start of a new year, etc. and I hope we can begin our own traditions in the coming years.


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