December 5th is St. Mikulas (St. Nicholas) day in the Czech Republic. (It is also celebrated in Slovakia and Hungry on this day.) For Czech people this holiday also marks the start of the Christmas season. St. Mikulas is a figure that has been said to have inspired the legend of Santa Claus. The physical appearance is quite similar as is much of the legend. The St. Mikulas tradition goes back to the 4th century Greek bishop St. Nicholas, who was said to have left a generous gift to three poor girls.
Czech children grow up with the legend of St. Mikulas and his two companions, the devil or čert and an angel or anděl. The devil represents evil and angel good. The legend is that these three characters will bring presents to well behaved children. The poorly behaved children get no presents, they get coal or a sack of potatoes. Oh yeah and they get to be stuffed in the Devil’s sack for a nice long holiday in hell.
Every year groups of three dress up as these characters and roam the streets. They look for children whom are asked if they’ve been naughty or nice, to sing a song or recite a poem. The nice children get some treats like candy. The naughty children run away screaming terrified of the čert .
Pretend the snowmen are angels okay.
If you are ever lucky enough to be in the Czech Republic head to the main town squares. That is where you are most likely to spot the characters. Stick around and watch the scene unfold as they approach children and their families.
But if you are like me and know that čert is giving you the evil hairy eyebrow, keep your distance. As much as I love potatoes and warm weather I am a wee claustrophobic and just couldn’t handle the trip down in that sack.
Unfortunately I’ve never take photos of the characters or scenes unfolding. But the other day I went to the store and in celebration of the holiday they had these gummy pops. For some reason the Angel was nowhere to be found, maybe it was sold out. So pretend the Santa is an Angel okay ;)
I leave you with one of the most beautiful videos I have ever seen!