Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas Eve! Czech Christmas Traditions you'll want to follow..

...or you may end up dead!
(but you know by now that we're a superstitious bunch)

The Cutting of an Apple
After Christmas dinner, every person present at the table cuts an apple in half (crosswise, from the stem down).  Both halves are shown to everyone around the table.  If the core is shaped as a star, it means that everyone will get together next year in happiness and health.  A four-pointed cross is a bad omen and means that someone at the table will fall ill or die within a year.

The Throwing of a Shoe
An unmarried girl is supposed to throw a shoe over her shoulder and towards the door.  If the shoe lands with the toe pointing towards the door, the girl will marry within a year.

Fish Scales
Fish scales should be placed under Christmas dinner plates or under the tablecloth to bring wealth to the house.  Carrying a fish scale in a wallet all year will ensure that money will not run out.

The Floating of Walnut Shells
Little boats are made out of empty walnut shells and each family member places a little burning candle into a shell.  Everyone's shells are then floated in a bowl of water.  If the shell makes it across the bowl, its owner will live a long and healthy life.  A shell that sinks brings bad luck to its owner.

The Pouring of Lead
A piece of lead is melted over a fire and then poured into a container of water.  The resulting shape will tell the pourer's destiny.

After Christmas dinner, no field is to crossed until midnight mass.  He who does so will die within a year (phew, sure glad I don't live near any fields!)...

A pregnant woman will know whether she is carrying a boy or a girl once the first Christmas Eve visitor enters the house.  If the visitor is male, she will have a son...

He who fails to give a present on Christmas Eve will be met with poverty...

 Certain plants, spices and foods are said to have special qualities and have been an important part of the Czech Christmas celebration throughout history.  Here are a few that should be served at Christmas:

An essential part of Christmas that should not be missing at any Christmas dinner.  It is believed to provide strength and protection.  A bowl of garlic can be placed under the dinner table.

Honey is believed to guard against evil.  A pot of honey can be placed on the dinner table.

Mushrooms give health and strength.  A traditional meal called kuba, prepared from dried mushrooms, barley, garlic, onions, and spices, used to be served as the main meal in the past.  Mushroom soup can be served before dinner.

Sheaf of Grain
A bundle of grain dipped in holy water can be used to sprinkle the house to prevent it from burning down in the coming year.

Poppyseed, peas, wheat, barley
If given to the hens on Christmas Eve, lots of eggs will be laid in the coming year.

Vánočka (Christmas bread)
Feeding a piece of vánočka into the well will ensure good quality of the water.

If the goats are given apples on Christmas Eve, their milk will be sweet.