Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Mikuláš

December 5th is the kick-off of the Czech Christmas season. The 6th of December is St. Mikuláš Day but everything actually happens the evening before on the 5th.





Mikuláš looks a lot like Santa Claus whose origin was supposedly inspired by St. Nicholas, the 4th century Greek bishop who is said to have helped children.

On the 5th, St. Nicholas (Mikuláš), an angel (anděl) and the devil (čert) walk the streets and stop children along the way asking if they have been good the past year. Most of the kids say “yes” and recite a short poem or sing a song.

In return the kids receive candy or sweets from the angel. Bad kids are given coal or a sack of potatoes from the devil. Parents frighten kids by telling them that really bad children are put in the devil’s sack and taken to hell.

So December 5th is an exciting (or scary) time for children here!

Children also receive Mikuláš presents from their parents or relatives. Usually chocolates or other sweets are put into a stocking and hidden in the children’s room.

There are about 120 churches in the Czech Republic dedicated to the child-loving saint. The most famous is the Baroque Kostel sv. Mikuláše (Church of St. Nicholas) in Prague's Malá Strana district.

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