Music is an essential part of the unique Christmas atmosphere. Along with the scent of frankincense and spices, fried carp on the Christmas Eve table, the candles, baubles and mistletoe – traditional music is what makes Czech Christmas complete. Besides Advent and Christmas church music, including the “Czech Christmas Mass” by Jakub Jan Ryba, the local Christmas musical heritage also abounds in folk songs and carols.
Tanks of live carp are currently to be seen on streets around the Czech Republic, with some Czechs taking the traditional Christmas food home alive and others having them butchered on the spot. Not everybody approves of the custom and animal rights activists have been staging dramatic protests against a practice they regard as extremely cruel.
Some 36 percent of Czechs associate Christmas with visiting a church, which is something they do even if they do not regard themselves as Christian, suggests a survey by the STEM agency released on Tuesday. In 1995 some 45 percent of Czechs said that Christmas was for them connected with going to church. Roughly eight percent of Czechs attend a church at least once a month, the new poll indicates.
The weather in the Czech Republic should remain mild until the end of the year, the Czech Hydro-meteorological Institute said in a regular monthly forecast issued on Saturday. Daytime temperatures in the coming week will reach up to 10 degrees Celsius with regular winter weather expected at the beginning of January. The highest levels of precipitation in the next four weeks can be expected at Christmas, the forecasters said.
Dreams of a white Christmas in the Czech Republic look like they will remain just that. Weather forecasters in their first appraisal have given the chances of snow on Christmas Day at just 20 percent. Chances of snow on higher ground are estimated at around 20 to 40 percent higher. In the past five years the Christmas temperatures have often hovered above freezing point. The last Prague Christmas with snow was 2010.
The tiny post office in the West Bohemian mountain town of Boží Dar – meaning God’s gift –is snowed under with mail from around the country and abroad, Czech Television reported. The post office annually stamps hundreds of thousands of Christmas greetings with a special Christmas stamp, making these letters a popular collector’s item for the sender and recipient. It is also the post office to which Czech children send letters to Baby Jesus or Ježísek telling him what they’d most like to get for Christmas. In the course of December the post with its four employees gets on average 15 kilograms of mail a day. Last Christmas it processed 358 kilograms of mail, with some letters from Germany, Japan, New Zealand and Australia.
Lights on the traditional Christmas tree on Prague’s Old Town Square will be turned on Saturday, City Hall has revealed, but said the exact time would not be given to avoid large crowds. The decision was taken on Monday after a meeting with the emergency services. Last week, the media reported there would be no traditional ceremony at all following the recent attacks in Paris – something which organisers immediately denied.
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