Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy New Year! Štastný Nový Rok

So us Czechs call New Year's Eve "Silvestr".  December 31st is St. Sylvester's Day because it is the saint's feast day.  And, since Prague was his place of birth, the tie is even stronger in the Czech Republic. We'll get together on "na Silvestra" and we'll eat (a lot) and drink (even more), and since today is Silvestr, I'm gearing up to be quite full and very, very merry.
As we say in Czech, Jak na Nový rok, tak po celý rok, which translated means, what happens on the 1st of January will happen every day of the new year.  So essentially, don't drink so much on Silvestr that you end up in a bad situation on New Year's Day...because that won't shape up to be a pretty year.  Instead, start the first day of 2013 off right... be healthy, happy, respectable, honest, loved, and love back with all of your heart.  In my head, which tends to produce romantic scenarios and fairy tale visions, I picture starting off the new year with passionate kisses and embraces, "Miluji tě"s and even more of those aforementioned kisses.  Yes, I'm a romantic...a damn bleeding heart romantic...and if you haven't guessed it I plan to spend 2013 wrapped in romance...because everything is better with romance.  

But all of that romance aside, we Czechs have traditions to adhere to on Silvestr and New Year's Day.  It's traditional to start off the new year with a clean house, everyone is busy doing their part to make sure that everything sparkles before the day is done. For good luck, one should eat a piece of herring before midnight (I've got rollmops ready to go!).  

There's an Eastern European superstition that states that on New Year's "it must be ensured that no animal meat ends up in the pan".  Why?   Because they once had legs, and the the luck would hop or fly away. Lobster and crab are considered bad luck because they move backwards and could lead to setbacks. 

Chicken is also a no-no because they scratch backward, and eating any winged fowl is ill-advised because this could portend one's good luck flying away.  

If you're awake at lunchtime on New Year's Day, you should eat lots of lentils (čočka as we call it) because in Czech tradition lentils symbolize money $$$ (I best be stocking up on the lentils and setting the alarm clock because I sure can use some extra money!).  Need a recipe for čočka?  Click here čočka recipe

 So what does this carnivores bunch of Czechs eat on Silvestr?   Meat.  Lots of meat.  Various chlebíčky (open-faced sandwiches), nuts, and other snacks, too. Midnight is celebrated by drinking šampaňské (champagne) or some other local sparkling wine. Some Czechs eat vepřový ovar (boiled pork head) se strouhaným křenem a jablky (with grated horseradish and apples) at midnight.  Myself?  I'll be indulging on artisanal cheeses, cured meats, and lots and lots of champagne. And I won't forget the herring for good luck!

chlebíčky 

My New Years wish to all of you is a happy home, happy and healthy self, family, and pets, travels to wonderful foreign destinations, prosperity and, of course, romance.

However you spend Silvestr, may it be happy and safe!

 Štastný Nový Rok everyone!