Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Christmas At School: Beginning to End

The first holiday in the Christmas season is Saint Borbora's Day, 4 December. As I explained before, on this day, unmarried women cut a branch from a tree and place it in water to see if it will bloom by Christmas. If it does, the woman will be married in the following year. You can see above that my branch bloomed! This means that in 2010, I will marry a Czech. I am not, however, holding my breath.

Next up, the following day, is Sv. Mikuláš Day. This is the day when Sv. Mikuláš (Czech for St. Nicholas) brings an angel and devil into the homes of small children. Those well-behaved children may sing a song and earn a treat from the angel. The little ones deemed too troublesome to continue existence will be taken in a sack down to hell by the devil. Kind of puts our coal tradition to shame. What a way to begin the Christmas season--fear for one's immortal soul!

Then, of course, we have Christmas! This was our Christmas tree at school. It took a long time to string all of those dried fruit rings but it was certainly more enjoyable than stringing popcorn and cranberries (yeah, Mom, you'll never live that down). Our ornaments are made out of gingerbread. It was a very traditional European Christmas tree, though I am told that the Czechs also usually have ornaments made out of straw.

And finally, we come to Three Kings Day, 6 January. This brings our Christmas season to a close. If you think about it, we've been celebrating for over a month straight now it seems, so maybe it's time. A lot of the traditions that were reserved for Three Kings Day have been moved to Christmas Day--like in America. However, Three Kings Day in the Czech Republic is a day when people from various charitable organizations come knock at your door to ask for money. Some of my students brought in change purses and couldn't wait to give a few crowns to the Three Kings when they came knocking! It's good to end the Christmas season with a non-materialistic giving holiday!

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