Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Carp

It's the 24th, so it is Christmas Day in the Czech Republic (but the 24th is Christmas Eve in the USA). That means it is time for Christmas carp. Or as I call it...bathtub fish.

I explained last year that about a week before Christmas the vendors start selling fish in barrels. Traditionally people pick out the carp they want and then take it home and let it swim around in the bathtub until the 24th. This still freaks me the hell out. However, I understand it a bit more this year.

I've been told that, back in the days of communism, there were shortages and you never knew if you would be able to buy what you needed. Sometimes all of the carp would be sold out days before Christmas so you had to buy it when you could. But you for sure did not want to keep it in the refrigerator for too long or it would go bad. So the smart thing to do was to let the fish live in the tub for a few days. this does start to make a little more sense.

What I don't understand is how do people take a bath everyday with a carp swimming around in the tub. Some people have told me that you put the fish in a bucket while you bathe and put the fish back in the tub as soon as you are done. This is just so not my cup of tea. I would have to scrub out the bathtub before I got in it.

When you select your carp at the fish vendor you have the option of taking it home alive or they will cut it for you on the spot. It seems that nowadays more and more people only take a live fish home if they have young children.

My friend Aleš lives in Břeclav and his mom took a live carp home. His parents are fortunate enough to have a second bathtub downstairs so they didn't have to share the tub with the fish. He was nice enough to send me a couple of photos of what will eventually be Christmas dinner.


  1. This was such a fun post. Sounds to me that the Czech people are having so much fun with their bathtub fish, they may have the Communism habit for many years to come!

  2. I am way excited about this blog. My family has been doing the "carp in the bathtub thing" since I was a little girl (not since my grandma passed away). I tried to find out the history and hit a dead end a long time ago. I even wrote a little story about it (the story is in "Storied Dishes" by editor Linda Berzok). Thanks so much for this blog.

  3. Alexandra,
    I'm glad that you enjoyed the post. I'll be sure to look for your story.