We Czechs (Bohemians, Moravians and Slovaks) have several passed-down and traditional Christmas superstitions and some are just as well known in other parts of the world as they are in the Czech Republic.
Czech people believe that certain foods and herbs can serve to tell the future and predict the year ahead. Around Christmas time, these specific predicting activities have been celebrated by Czechs throughout all of recorded history. Today we’ve created a list of some of the strange tales around different foods and the effects that Czech people believe they have on people.
During the holiday season apples are used a lot by Czech people to predict the future. After Christmas dinner, every person is given a apple which they cut in half from the stem down and they study the shape that the seeds inside show. If the seeds appear in a star shape, it means that health, happiness and unity is predicted for the new year. But if it’s shaped like a four-pointed cross that means bad luck will be brought to someone at the table and someone will get sick or even die.
Another tradition which includes apples is where a young girl (a maiden) will peel an apple on Christmas Day and throw the peel above her head. Depending on what letter of the alphabet the peel looks like when it lands, this will be the first letter of the name of her future husband.
Also, it is believed that if goats are given an apple on Christmas Eve, their milk will be plentiful and sweet.
Czech women put honey on their cheeks on Christmas to bring them romance and love.
Honey is also placed in a saucer on the Christmas table to ward off evil and bring health to the family.
We have to admit it, most of the Czechs we know also love spreading honey on a slice of bread with butter and eating it as a snack.
Potato salad has always been a part of the traditional Czech Christmas dinner. Czech people put peas in their potato salad because peas are supposed to be of heavenly origin.
Split pea soup or sweet peas sprinkled with sugar and gingerbread are also eaten by some Czech families on Christmas.
The day after Christmas, peas, poppy seeds, wheat, and/or barley are fed to the poultry. This custom assures that many delicious eggs will be laid in the coming year and that the hens and their eggs will be plentiful.
Kuba used to be served as a main course in Czech homes on Christmas. Kuba is a meal made from wild mushrooms, barley, onions, spices, and garlic which is believed to provide strength and protection. You may be interested in our Kuba recipe.
Mushrooms are believed to bring more health and strength.
Some also believe that a bowl of garlic should be put under the dining table for Christmas dinner.
Czech vanočka is also thought to bring luck to the family if eaten on Christmas, check out our recipe for traditional Czech vanočka here!
What are your family traditions during Advent and Christmas?
We’d love to hear about them in the comments below.