Tuesday, December 9, 2008
December 5th is the Czech holiday Mikulaš. Mikulaš is how you say Nicholas in Czech and Mikulaš is the Czech St. Nicholas. Instead of being fat and in a red suit Mikulaš looks like a pope. He hangs out with an angel and a devil named čert (pronounced chert). First I'll tell you how Czech's celebrate then I'll tell you what we did on Mikulaš. A lot of Czechs either have Mikulaš, čert and the angel come to their house and have a party where they invite friends over or they are visited by the threesome at school. Parents prepare beforehand a list of three things the child does good and three the child does that are bad. Mikulaš reads the list and čert shakes chains at the kids and scares them, I've heard they give parents a whip. This is all to help the child want to be better. Then when the three good things are read off the angel gives the child candy. Or the kids recite a poem or sing a song and the angel will give them candy. The kids are scared to death of čert and usually they are crying and if they're young enough pee their pants. My friend works at a preschool and the parents have to bring an extra pair of clothes on that day. A lot of people go to Old Town Square on Mikulaš. Some dress up. Some bring their kids, and some are just there for the Christmas market and presentation that you can only see if you get there way early. We decided to dress up. Vinson was čert and Benji was Mikulaš. I, of course was an angel, but didn't dress up. Czechs in general don't talk to strangers. The trams are silent unless there are drunk Germans or loud Americans on them. So it makes it extra fun when strangers come up and say, "Oh look there's a baby Mikulaš! How cute!! Oh and what a cute little čert too!" Old Town Square was crazy, but we didn't have a stroller this time so it was a lot easier to get around . . . but still not very easy. We saw a Mikulaš on stilts, and two čerts that had big bells attached on their back and were dancing so it was like they were making their own loud music. Vinson got to . . . well Dan tried to get him to sing a song but he played shy so he got candy for . . . being cute. Twice.
at 7:10 AM