Over the past week, or so, I’ve truly enjoyed reading people’s Christmas traditions. I find it fascinating how every country or family makes this holiday special for their families. So many of you have been preparing for days if not weeks. Food, of course, plays an integral part of the festivities.
When we lived in the states our Christmas dinners were everything from tamales, turkey, goose or prime rib. Depending on which parent’s house we were at the food and celebratory activities also changed. After we moved to Europe our traditional Christmas dinner became goose, homemade pumpkin pie, loads of cookies, fresh baked breads, fresh seasonal vegetables, hot chocolate, red or mulled wine. For the most part it has remained the same as our Mexican, American-melting pot traditions. This year we want to change it up and so we will be having a traditional Czech Christmas meal.
The Czech Christmas meal is so different from what we are used to. Carp is the Christmas meal of choice. That is fried carp served with potato salad, a soup, plenty of cookies and sweets. Yes, I know when many of you hear/read carp you cringe. But one must remember to have an open mind and respect other people’s traditions. I for one am so excited to experience some Czech Christmas culture and tradition.
Czechs celebrate Christmas on the 24th of December. They eat their Christmas dinner and open presents on the 24th. Like in Mexico, Czech children grow up with the story of baby Jesus being the one who delivers the presents. Of course due to this modern globalized world we live in Santa Claus is on many adverts and products. Honestly I couldn’t tell you what Czech parents tell their children about Santa. Though not for religious reasons I hope Czechs stick with tradition and continue with Ježíšek (baby Jesus) as the gift giver.
Another Czech tradition I hope does not get lost is the Carp tradition. Let’s talk about how the Carp makes it to the Christmas table. Several days before the 24th Carp sellers pop up around the country. The Carp sellers or stalls consist of several large vats filled with live Carp and water. There is a large table where the carb is killed and prepared if you like. But the tradition is that families buy their Carp fresh a day, or so, before and cook it fresh on the 24th. Those who buy the Carp live will fill the bathtub up with water and have a family pet for a day or two.
When I’ve spoken to young Czech friends they admitted to me that they eat Christmas Carp out of tradition and not out of pleasure. Apparently Czechs are divided into two groups, those that like and enjoy Carp and those that do not enjoy it at all. Some friends have told me that instead of Carp they’ll eat Schnitzel, or now with the availability of imported fish they’ll substitute the Carp with an imported fish.
I for one have never tried Carp so I can’t give you my opinion just yet. Sunday we will be going out for our Czech Christmas Carp. Afterwards I can report back the whole experience. I’m going into it with excitement because I am always up for something new. But also going into it warily. My hubby on the other hand is feeling, and I quote ” trepidation”. I guess we will see.
I loved this video made by a Czech on the Christmas Carp tradition. But if you need something lighter than the slightly gruesome video above, watch this Chuck Norris video. See how he handles the Czech Christmas tradition.
For now I say Feliz Navidad, Vesele Vanoce and a very Merry Christmas!!