Christmas is a special holiday for us all. People getting presents for their dearest ones, spending time with their families, going on big family lunches… which of course requires special vocabulary. So let’s take a look at what words you might need to know for a Christmas holiday and New Year’s Eve in the Czech Republic!
A traditional Christmas tree (Vánoční stromeček or just stromeček) is usually a pine (borovice) or spruce (smrk) decorated with ornaments (in general called ozdoby, the round glass ones are called baňky) and candles (svíčky) or lights (světýlka). Some families have an artificial tree made of plastic (umělý stromeček).
As you probably know, the most important day is the 24th December, called Generous Day or Evening (Štědrý den/večer). The tree is put up and decorated usually in the morning of the 24th. During the day, people prepare dinner, go for a walk and watch fairytales (pohádky) on TV. Even though the Czechs are not fond of Russian culture, one of the most popular Christmas fairytale is Jack Frost (Mrazík) (wikipedia). Another very popular fairytale is Three Wishes/Nuts/Gifts for Cinderella (Tři oříšky pro Popelku) (wikipedia).
The traditional Christmas dinner includes fried carp (smažený kapr), potato salad (bramborový salát) and of course Christmas cookies (cukroví). The most traditional cookies are linzers or linz tarts (linecká kolečka), vanilla crescents (vanilkové rohlíčky), bear paws (pracny/pracky), beehives (vosí hnízda) and of course gingerbreads (perníčky). If you’re interested, here’s a video recipe for linz tarts (youtube).
After the traditional dinner, Christmas carols (koledy) are sung and Baby Jesus (Ježíšek) brings the gifts (dárky) and puts them underneath the Christmas tree.
At midnight, many people go to the church (kostel) to attend the Midnight Mass (Půlnoční mše or just Půlnoční).
New Year’s Eve (Silvestr)
The celebrations of New Year’s differ very much family to family. Some people go out to a pub, some stay at home. Since the 31st is a working day (pracovní den), not a public holiday (státní svátek), the celebrations start in the evening. People usually have a toast (přípitek) with Champagne (šampaňské) at midnight and then go outside to set off firecrackers (petardy). The 1st January is a public holiday, so the celebrations and welcoming of the new year sometimes last till the morning.
Veselé Vánoce a šťastný nový rok!
You can download Christmas Czech words with pictures here.
Author: Dagmar Wiesnerová