Blogging about Czech Christmas this week made me realize how much of the so-called Christmas tradition is related to our experiences–or traumas–from communism.
To give you an example…Czechs love to eat exotic fruit around Christmas time – pineapples, oranges, kiwis, plus more things that I can’t identify by name and that certainly don’t grow in this latitude. This clearly comes from communism: exports from non-communist countries were not allowed. Only around Christmas time, the stores would get special shipments of bananas, oranges and nuts, and it was a big treat! (Come to think of it, I wonder where those special shipments came from back then…Santa Castro?)
There were a couple of problems with the concept. First of all, the lines went out the door when the word got out: “They have bananas!” There was also a strict limit on how much one family could buy. I think it was about two pounds per family. Of course, the Czech are sly people so they would have multiple family members dispersed throughout the line to “fool the system,” and buy more stuff.
To this day, Czech still eat exotic fruit on Christmas, although now the stores are chock-full with bananas, oranges and kiwis any time of the year. Old habits die hard.