Czech pre- Christmas Traditions

Czech pre- Christmas Traditions

Christmas is coming! Since, many different cultures celebrate Christmas, so, obviously this means there are many different spins on it. I have had to explain Czech Christmas traditions so many times in the past, I can’t even remember all the reactions I got. A lot of people find our traditions weird and some just funny. I agree that some of the traditions are a little silly, but hey, I grew up on them and Christmas would not be the same without them. Here are just a couple of things we do in December before Christmas.screen-shot-2016-11-29-at-10-33-48-pm

Cukroví 

Cukroví are Christmas cookies. We usually make around eight or ten different types of cookies, and the grand total is usually somewhere around 800-1,000 pieces. It takes a lot of time to bake and a lot, a lot of time to then decorate them, but what would Christmas be without them? Of course we then share some with our family and friends, if they deserve it 😛

Advent Sundays

The four Sundays before Christmas Eve, we celebrate advent. There are a couple of traditions linked to this. First, we get a wreath with four candles on it, one to be lit each Advent Sunday. So every Sunday, usually in the evening, you sit down with your family have some tea or coffee and some cookies and light the candles, until all four of them are lit.img_7080

Mikuláš

Mikuláš, or St. Nicholas, comes around on the 5th of December and brings chocolates, advent calendars, clementines and other little gifts to the children that have been nice. However, he does not come alone. Along with him, he brings the Angel and the Krampus, to represent good and evil. If you have been good all year and you recite a poem or sing a song, you get the nice little gifts from St. Nicholas. But if you have been naughty, you will get coal from the Krampus or, in the worst case scenario, he will take you away. Usually this wonderful tradition ends up traumatizing children.

Advent Calendars

Advent calendars are popular all around the world. And they are the same in Czech Republic, except for the fact that Mikuláš, or St. Nicholas, brings them on the 5th of December. The calendars can be either christmas themed or they can have different cartoon characters on them. Each day, until the 24th,  you can eat one chocolate.

Christmas Markets

Christmas markets are my favorite. Nothing puts me in a Christmas-y mood like one of these markets in Old Town Square in Prague. Yes, they are insanely crowded, but the atmosphere is absolutely amazing, with the giant Christmas tree in the middle and little stands selling all sorts of products. Anything from tree decorations to sweets and hot mulled wine!   

Svařák (Mulled Wine)

Nothing keeps you warm like a nice cup of mulled wine. If you are going to a Christmas market, forget the hot chocolate and tea, and have some mulled wine. Every stand has its own recipe, so naturally, you have to try several to find your favorite :). It perfectly completes the Christmas atmosphere at the market, so it is a must (unless you are under 18, then just stick to the hot chocolate, which is great as well)! But, if you are absolutely opposed to wine, then there are alternatives. Medovina (mead) is a great, very sweet substitute. Another substitute is grog, which is rum, hot water and lemon juice with a little bit of sugar to make it sweeter.

Hope this gave you a little bit of an insight into the Czech pre-Christmas traditions and hopefully you can visit Czech Republic and experience these first hand. If you do, enjoy the Christmas markets and the mulled wine!

Czech Christmas Eve traditions coming soon!


READ MORE:

Halloween

Scandinavian Airline Review

 

Mikulov: the wine and the hike

imageA couple of weeks back we decided we need to get to know our own country, the Czech Republic, a little more. We had a couple of days to explore, so we decided to go to southern Moravia for two and a half days. First stop was Mikulov.

Mikulov is a small town, but absolutely gorgeous. We spent half a day there but we wished our hotel was in the town, because we loved it so much.

By the time we got to Mikulov, it was well past noon and we were starving after spending the whole morning on the bus and train to get there. So we looked for a restaurant, where we could also enjoy our first glass of wine in the Czech wine country. We walked through the town and chose U Obřího Sudu. They had great food and great wine, so I definitely recommend it!

After food, wine and ice cream, we started our hike up to the Svatý Kopeček. The hill looked extremely daunting from the bottom, but up we went. Along the way there were information boards about the history, the area and the nature. Definitely give these a quick read, because you will learn lots of interesting things about the area you are exploring!

First tip, if you go on a hike, bring INSECT REPELLENT! We forgot to bring ours and ended up with huge swollen mosquito bites.

image

Second tip, bring lots of WATER with you! Even though the hike isn’t as long as it seems, when it’s hot, you need enough water to keep you going.

imageAt the top of the hill, we were rewarded with the most gorgeous view! It was nice to just sit and enjoy the city and the castle below us. Once we took about a billion pictures, we took another route down. Half the time we were hoping we were walking down the right way, because we were alone in the forest. It was a great way to get back down, walking around the hill the back way.

Since the castle looked so beautiful from the top, we went to look at it up close. We walked around the grounds in awe of the beautiful architecture! Definitely suggest you walk around the grounds, it’s worth the time.

We brought our afternoon trip to an end with some wine on the main square of Mikulov. This is a must! There is nothing quite like a glass of wine after a long day of walking.

Mikulov is a beautiful place, that if you get the chance, you definitely should visit! Even if you don’t have time to go up to the hill, at least stop by for the adorable town and wine!


READ MORE:

Student Agency Review

Flying with Finnair

Cape Town in 72 hours

DSCN1623

We went to Cape Town a few years ago, but thanks to my travel diaries and the bajillion pictures we took, I can definitely write about it even now. I distinctly remember seeing Table Mountain for the first time. There is something majestic about it that none of the photographs, postcards or posters capture. At that moment, I knew I was in love.

We rented a car and decided that, for the sake of time, we would commence our first adventure:  the trip down to Cape Point. This proved to be an adventure, as the GPS decided to guide us through a web of side roads and right past a township.  Even though we didn’t quite know where we were headed, we got to see the Indian Ocean and the adorable little towns along the coast that seem like they were taken straight out of Pirates of the Caribbean. Many stops were made along the way, including a war memorial and a penguin watching spot. But, we were there during the wrong season, so no penguins for us.

We continued the journey southwards, towards the point that was feared by many explorers centuries ago, with a breathtaking view around every turn. All of a sudden, were entering the Table Mountain National Park. As we were driving through the park towards the famous lighthouse and Cape Point, I didn’t know in where to look first – we were on a strip of land and could see the Indian Ocean on our left and the Atlantic on our right.

 

After reaching the parking lot, we braced for the cold and headed towards the lighthouse and then down to the beach. We were freezing, but we got to see the two oceans meet and learned a lot about the history of Cape Point. Did you know that New Delhi is about as far from Cape Point as Paris?DSCN1635

As much as we wanted to stay, it was time to head to our next destination – The Groot Constantia Vineyard. On the way, we experienced and an unexpected delay in the form of a turtle crossing the road. All traffic stopped until the turtle was safely on the other side of the road. It was great to see this level of appreciation for the local wildlife :) And the turtle was adorable.

We wrapped up Day 1 of our visit by wine tasting at the Groot Constantia and Klein Constantia Vineyards. I tasted their local specialty – a desert wine. It is the sweetest wine I’ve ever tasted and you can drink only a little at a time, but buying a bottle or two is definitely worth it.

On Day 2, we woke up with the sunrise. To avoid long lines, we headed straight to Table Mountain. As drove upward towards the cable car, the city covered in fog came into view.

The cable car ride up the side of the mountain lasts less than five minutes and you rise more than 700 meters. The view from the car is beautiful and most of the ride is pretty smooth. The scariest point comes when you arrive at the side of the mountain and the car dramatically slows down, making it seem like you stopped mid-air. Slowly, the car rises to the station. I got off, knees shaking, and needed a few minutes to adjust to standing on firm ground again. If you’re afraid of heights, brace yourself, it’s not a super pleasant ride, but totally worth it.

DSCN1678

Once you’re on top of the mountain, everything below you seems tiny. On one side, you see Cape Town, which was slowly emerging from the morning fog. On the other, there is a clear view of Cape Point and the meeting point of the Atlantic and Indian Oceans. Most of the clouds were below us, so I could see the amazing cloud formations above the Atlantic. We walked around on top of the mountain, which was surprisingly warm and headed back.

We devoted Day 3 to history. In the morning, we left to get on the ferry to Robben Island. We first took a bus tour around the island, where you can see the layout of the prison, see where some famous prisoners were held, see the lime quarries and hear about the history of the island. The bus tour is then followed by a tour of the inside of the prison.

We entered a large room and a former prisoner greeted us, as only former prisoners and wardens serve as tour guides, which gives the tour an interesting perspective. He told us his story and where it fit into the history of South Africa and the Apartheid. We then walked through the prison and saw some of the famous places, which were decorated by photographs from the time it was still a prison. We saw individual cells, each with a story of an individual who resided there, including the cell of Nelson Mandela. I got goose bumps while walking through these spaces and reading the stories.

DSCN1651As the tour finished, we were told that one of the largest penguin colonies in the world resided on Robben Island, but that this was out of the way and we had only 15 minutes before the ferry left. To be safe, we headed for the ferry and, once again, missed seeing the penguins.

Cape Town offers a lot more than I expected, with its natural beauty and history, that spending three days there is simply not enough. I definitely plan on going back and seeing what I missed. If you haven’t seen it yet, it should go on your bucket list!


READ MORE: 

How we flew with Ryan Air

Festival survival tips