Czech Christmas, Part I: Santa, go home!

Since I am spending the holidays with my family in the Czech Republic this year, I will give you a little insight into what Czech Christmas is like.

One of the first things you will notice when talking to the locals is that people are angry at Santa Claus. You might ask “How can you not like Santa?”

Well, Santa personalizes just another expansive monster who invaded the Czech lands in the past few centuries. Traditionally, Jezisek (Baby Jesus) brought Christmas presents to Czech children. After the fall of Communism in 1989, Santa was one of the first signs that capitalism is just around the corner. He started appearing in window shops, competing for children’s attention. As a results of this, many Czech kids now get presents from both Jezisek and Santa Claus. Ain’t capitalism grand?

Of course, parents complain that the Santa propaganda just makes children more materialistic. “Why can’t we just have Jezisek? Santa go home!”

Frankly, I always found this sort of spirituality hypocritical. Czech Republic is one of the most atheistic countries in the world. Yet, somehow, Czechs are hung up on Baby Jesus bringing their children’s presents. The Czech Republic is actually the perfect place for Santa Claus. We even have a president named Vaclav Klaus. That is him in the picture, implying “shop, shop, shop!”

Also see Czech Christmas Part II and Czech Christmas Part III.