Christmas in the Czech lands – a magical time for children and adults

English: Nativity scenes in Sanok
English: Nativity scenes in Sanok (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Christmas in the Czech lands – a magical time for children and adults

Christmas in the Czech Republic is one of the best times of the year. The streets of towns big and small are bedecked with yuletide decorations and town squares come alive with the hustle and bustle of Christmas markets. Old folk Christmas traditions are revived at open-air museums and children and adults alike stop at the sight of well-crafted figures in nativity scenes with delight in their eyes. Christmas and Advent music can be heard in concert halls, churches, castles and chateaux. A Czech Christmas is above all a time of cheer and friendship so accept our invitation and spend the festive season with us.

The appearance of St Nicholas means Christmas is on its way. While for adults the period leading up to Christmas is like no time at all, children impatiently count off the days on the Advent calendar. This agonizing wait for their Christmas presents is alleviated somewhat by the arrival of St Nicholas, who visits every child in the country on the eve of St Nicholas day December 5. This august figure is traditionally accompanied by an angel and a demon. He may scare the children a bit, but his main task is to give them some small gifts, fruit and sweets. This will be the scene on Charles Square in Třebíč ( Christmas markets will be taking place in this UNESCO-listed town December 19 and 20.

The Czechs’ distinctive nativity scenes
The story of Jesus’ birth has always been an inspiration for the creators of nativity scenes. These are made of various materials including wood, ceramics, paper and even gingerbread. Some of the nativity scenes you will discover in the Czech Republic are some of the finest in the world and can be found in churches, museums and open-air museums. The museum in Jindřichův Hradec ( houses the largest mechanical scenes in the world – the Krýza Nativity Scene. It took the creator more than 60 years to complete this gargantuan undertaking which holds almost 1400 figures! In Třebechovice pod Orebem ( the villagers have even created a Nativity Scene Museum housing nativity scenes from across the Czech Republic and Slovakia. Their most valuable exhibit is the Třebechovice mechanical nativity scene. The prized possession at the Nativity Scene Museum in Karlštejn ( is the Karlštejn royal nativity scene containing figures representing Czech kings. And be sure not to miss the museum’s exhibition of gingerbread nativity scenes.

Music for Christmas and Advent
Czech classical music is some of the world’s finest cultural heritage and there can be no better Christmas present for fans than special concerts of music for Christmas and Advent which take place at concert halls, markets, churches, castles and chateaux. These will often feature the Czech Christmas Mass called ‘Hej mistře, vstaň bystře’ composed by Jakub Jan Ryba at the end of the 18th century. This year it will be performed twice by the Prague State Opera ( December 25 and 26. Concerts of organ music with a Christmas theme will also take place December 25 until January 6, 2007 at the Basilica of St James in the Old Town ( The popularity of music specially written for Advent and Christmas can be seen from the number of festivals taking place.

 Alphonse Maria Mucha, Moravia FAMILY czech-republic christmas angel

My father’s grandparents were from Vsetine, Moravia, and they emigrated in 1892 to Texas.

Leroy Eugene “Lee” Frederick
Birth:  Mar. 6, 1926
Harris County
Texas, USA
Death:  Nov. 16, 2006
Houston County
Texas, USA 

“Services for Leroy Eugene Frederick 80, of Grapeland,Houston County, Texas will be at 1 p.m. Monday at Liberty Hill United Methodist Church with Tommy Hutto officiating. Daddy & Barbara resided in Percilla, Houston County, Texas. Burial will follow in Augusta Cemetery under the direction of Bailey & Foster, of Grapeland. Mr. Frederick died Thursday at East Texas Medical Center in Crockett. Condolence calls will be from 6 to 8 p.m. Sunday at Bailey & Foster Funeral Home, Grapeland, Texas.” [Palestine Herald-Press Nov 18,2006]Leroy was raised Catholic as all his sisters and brothers were. They attended the Sacred Heart Catholic Church, in Crosby, Harris County, Texas. Later in his life he was baptized as Methodist. He helped build the Liberty Hill Methodist Church, in Liberty Hill, Williamson County, Texas.

Leroy was the son of Charlie & Bessie (Mazac) Frederick of Crosby, Harris County, Texas. His ancestors emigrated from Moravia in 1892. He had two sisters, Agnes Rainnie “Renie” (Frederick) Christ and Juanita “Punkin” (Frederick)Christ, both of them resided on Talcott Road, Houston, Harris County, Texas 77049.
He had two brothers, Charles and Woodrow Frederick, who preceded him in death.

Leroy married to first wife, Jean Marie Linderman, 15 Nov. 1947. They had six children by that union, which lasted for twenty one years. Joseph Lee, Phyllis Jean [Hyden], Sally Ann [Tudor], Karl Thomas, Patricia Marie[Harrod], and Sarah Kay Frederick [Moore]. Divorced in 1968.

Leroy married Barbara Moore Faulk in 15 Sept. 1969, in Dayton, Texas. She called him Lee.

Barbara had two children, Jeanna and Joey Faulk, from a previous marriage.

Leroy & Barbara had no children from that marriage, which lasted for thirty seven years.

Leroy served in the U.S. Navy during World War II aboard Merchant Marine supply ships for troops. He served in the U.S. Navy from Jan. 1944, until May 18, 1946. He was shipped out to San Diego, California.

Military Service Records show:
[Frederick, Leroy Eugene, service number was 5772117, Seaman 1C, V-6 USNR, Sheldon, Texas.] He was Honorably discharged. He was sent back to Camp Wallace, TX. after World War II ended.

Daddy worked for Brown & Root, Inc, 4100 Clinton Drive, Houston, Texas for [46] forty six years. Started out as a Mechanic’s helper, and retired as Asst. Supt. of the Automotive Dept.

Leroy & Barbara (Moore) Frederick were hosts for several different parks in Wyoming, South Dakota, Montana, etc… after their retirement. In 1995, all the Grandchildren were taken by Leroy’s son, Joseph Frederick & Brenda (Meyers) Frederick, to visit them in South Dakota & Montana.

Leroy was a loving and loyal Son, Brother, Husband, Father, Grandfather, and Great-Grandfather. He is greatly missed!
I am proud to be the daughter of such an honorable and hard working man. 

Family links:
  Charles F Frederick (1892 – 1947)
  Elizabeth Annie Mazac Frederick (1895 – 1977)
  Jean Marie Linderman Mancill (1927 – 2012)

Augusta Cemetery
Houston County
Texas, USA
Created by: TEXAS TUDORS
Record added: Aug 21, 2007
Find A Grave Memorial# 21070006
Leroy Eugene Lee Frederick
Leroy Eugene Lee Frederick

Czech-Moravian Kolache Recipe

Moravian Star
Moravian Star (Photo credit: vlasta2)
Moravian Church Motto
Moravian Church Motto (Photo credit: vlasta2)
English: Home made poppy seed kolaches on a plate
English: Home made poppy seed kolaches on a plate (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
English: Moravian Seal, or Agnus Dei, stained ...
English: Moravian Seal, or Agnus Dei, stained glass window in the Rights Chapel at Trinity Moravian Church, Winston-Salem, NC (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Czech Kolaches2

My paternal, Moravian grandmother, Elizabeth Annie “Bessie” Mazac (Frederick) made the best kolaches, that I have ever eaten. I am going to learn to make them. 

Czech Kolaches

Czech-Moravian Kolaches

Czech Kolaches Fillings


Kolache /kɵˈlɑːi/ (also spelled kolace, kolach, or kolacky, from the Czech andSlovak plural koláče, sg. koláč) is a type of pastry that holds a dollop of fruit rimmed by a puffy pillow of supple dough.[1] Originating as a semisweet wedding dessert fromCentral Europe, they have become popular in parts of the United States. The wordkolache (колаче) itself means ‘a small cookie’ in Macedonian.

Related articles

Czech Christmas Customs And Superstitions

English: Czech christmas cake (Vánoce is Chris...
English: Czech christmas cake (Vánoce is Christmas). Polski: Czeska chałka bożonarodzeniowa “Vánočka” (Vánoce jest Boże Narodzenie). Česky: Česká vánočka. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Czech Cuisine
Czech Cuisine (Photo credit: maerzbow)
A Danish version of the Christmas dinner.
A Danish version of the Christmas dinner. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Bulgarian Christmas Eve dinner spread with pum...
Bulgarian Christmas Eve dinner spread with pumpkin (tikvenik) banitsa, sarma, Russian salad and more. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
traditional Christmas Eve supper in Poland - d...
traditional Christmas Eve supper in Poland – dishes (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Czech folklore is rich in customs and superstitions and there are hundreds of those related to Christmas. The purpose of many of them is to find out what the coming year has in store for the family.

• Christmas Dinner Customs
• The Magical Powers of Foods and Plants
• Foretelling the Future
• Foretelling Marriage
• Money and Wealth
• Other Christmas Customs and Superstitions

Christmas Dinner Customs

Czech Christmas dinner (December 24) is connected with a great number of different customs, rules and superstitions. Very few of them are still observed today, and for good reason. It must have been quite a challenge to put the dinner together and go through with it without a mistake if all the customs were to be followed! Here are some of them:

– No lights should be lit in the house before the first star comes out. After it does, dinner is served.
– The table should be set for an even number of guests. An odd number brings bad luck or death.
– An extra plate can be used to even out the number of guests. An extra plate should also be prepared in case
– an unexpected guest or a person in need comes by the house at dinner time.
– The legs of the table can be tied with a rope to protect the house from thieves and burglars in the coming year.
– No one should sit with their back to the door.
– Christmas dinner should consist of nine courses including soup, bread with honey, carp, potato salad, fruit (dried,
– fresh or canned), dessert (apple strudel or vánočka – Christmas bread), and other foods.
– No alcohol should be served on Christmas Eve.
– No one should ever get up from the Christmas table before dinner is finished. Doing so brings bad luck and death
– in the family.
– Everyone should finish their dinner and leave nothing on the plate.
– The first person to leave the table after dinner will be the first one to die in the coming year – that is why everyone
– should get up from the table at the same time.
– Any leftovers from dinner (crumbs, fishbones, etc.) should be buried around the trees to ensure they will bear lots
– of fruit.
– All household animals should be fed after dinner so that no one goes hungry on Christmas Eve.

The Magical Powers of Foods and Plants

Certain plants, spices and foods are said to have special qualities and have been an important part of Czech Christmas celebrations throughout history.

Garlic is an essential part of Christmas that should not be missing at any Christmas dinner. It is believed to provide strength and protection. A bowl of garlic can be placed under the dinner table.

Honey is believed to guard against evil. A pot of honey can be placed on the dinner table.

Mushrooms give health and strength. A traditional meal called kuba, prepared from dried mushrooms, barley, garlic, onions, and spices, used to be served as the main meal in the past. Mushroom soup can be served before dinner.

Sheaf of Grain
A bundle of grain dipped in holy water can be used to sprinkle the house to prevent it from burning down in the next year.

Poppyseed, peas, wheat, barley
If given to the hens on Christmas Eve, lots of eggs will be laid in the coming year.

Vánočka (Christmas bread)
Feeding a piece of vánočka to the cows on Christmas Eve will ensure that there will be lots of milk all year.
Putting a few vánočka crumbs in front of the bee hive will make sure that the bees will produce enough honey next year.
Throwing a piece of vánočka into the well will ensure good quality of the water.

If the goats are given apples on Christmas Eve, their milk will be sweet.

Foretelling the Future

The foretelling of the future and predicting the well-being of the family in the coming year is connected with many popular Christmas customs some of which are still practiced today.

The Floating of Walnut Shells
Little boats are made out of empty walnut shells and each family member places a little burning candle into a shell. Everyone’s shells are then floated on a bowl of water. If the shell makes it across the bowl, its owner will live a long and healthy life. A shell that sinks brings bad luck to its owner.

The Cutting of the Apple
After Christmas dinner, every person present at the table cuts an apple in half (crosswise, from the stem down). Both halves are shown to everyone around the table. If the core is shaped as a star, it means that everyone will get together next year in happiness and health. A four-pointed cross is a bad omen and means that someone at the table will fall ill or die within a year.

The Pouring of Lead
A piece of lead is melted over fire and then poured into a container of water. The resulting shape will tell the pourer’s destiny.

Foretelling Marriage

Lots of Christmas customs help young girls in the family find out if they will get married in the upcoming year.

Cherry Tree Twigs (Barborky)
On December 4, St. Barbora’s Day, an unmarried girl is supposed to cut a twig off of a cherry tree and put it in water. If the twig blooms by Christmas Eve, the girl will marry within a year.

The Throwing of the Shoe
An unmarried girl is supposed to throw a shoe over her shoulder and towards the door. If the shoe lands with the toe pointing towards the door, the girl will marry within a year.

The Shaking of the Elder Tree
An unmarried girl is supposed to shake an elder tree and if a dog barks, she will marry a man who lives in the direction from which the dog bark came.

Money and Wealth

Although Czech Christmas has traditionally been focused on spirituality and family rather than on material possessions, there are a few customs relating to money and wealth.

Fish Scales
Fish scales should be placed under Christmas dinner plates or under the tablecloth to bring wealth to the house. Carrying a fish scale in a wallet all year will ensure that money will not run out.

Other Christmas Customs and Superstitions

– He who fasts all day until dinner will see the golden piglet on the wall.
– After Christmas dinner, no field is to be crossed until the midnight mass. He who does so will die within a year. 
– He who fails to give a present on Christmas Eve will be met with poverty.
– A pregnant woman will know whether she is carrying a boy or a girl once the first Christmas Eve visitor enters the
– house. If the visitor is female, she will have a daughter.

My favorite memory from my Czech-Moravian Grandmother”Bessie” Elizabeth Annie Mazac Frederick,  was her delicious fruit and poppy seed kolaches that she made. She was a poor farmer’s wife and raised five children on her own.  She was a great cook, and made everything by memory. I never met my paternal grandfather, Charlie Frederick (Karel Fredrich), because he died in 1947 before I was born. My grandmother had very little materially, but she had her Catholic faith and her family. She always had a tree and lots of good food and soda pop for all of us grandchildren. She was very poor, but she always had a little something wrapped up for each of us grandchildren under the tree. We opened our presents from her on Christmas day. We also always had Eggnog. My Czech-Moravian family always celebrated all holidays together. 

Czech-Moravian KolachesCzech_Santa_Christmas_Legends_Steinbach_Nutcracker




czech-republic christmas angel