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The Christmas Bustle


A series of impressions from the week before Christmas. It is, of course, lovely to be in the Czech Republic for Christmas, but I tried to notice the less conventional side of things, or at least the non-everyday things. (I was so caught up in the 'bustle' last week that I didn't get around to photographing much of it, and some of the photos are from after the fact.)

For example, remember Ježíšek? Well, Frekvence 1, a popular radio station, encouraged listeners to send Ježíšek an SMS (short test messages that can be sent from mobile phones). If your message was chosen as one that could "shock, surprise, or make Ježíšek laugh," you could win 10,000 crowns! On Friday before Christmas Eve Karel Gott, the reigning king of Czech pop music (somehow I always imagine him as a cross between Elvis, Frank Sinatra, and Lawrence Welk), came to the studio to award a special prize of 100,000 crowns. Frekvence 1 offers many eclectic horoscopes--Indian, Egyptian, Chinese, Aztec, Indian, Celtic, Gypsy (they are only in Czech but if you want to acess them, scroll down to 'Horoskopy' on the sitemap).

On náměstí svobody, the "square of Freedom" at the center of old Brno, there was a large Christmas market. You could gorge yourself on many types of sausage or other other unhealthy but festive food like svařák (hot spiced wine), bramboráky (fried, in lots of grease, potato cakes), or freshly cooked pork cut from a roasting hog caracass while you wait. Next door to the cooked meat stalls stood Ježíšek's post office. A little farther down was a carousel for kids. Next to that a blacksmith forged horseshoes for luck and bells for your home betlem (nativity scene). In the middle of it all stood a huge Christmas tree with a little tables under it where you could stand to sip your beer.

Ježíšek's post office; you can get a postmark that says "Traditional Czech Christmas, Brno."

Then there are the carp sellers. They were on all the major squares I visited in Brno though I never got a picture. Rumor has it that one should not buy carp from the sellers on Prague's Staroměstské náměstí because there is "something" wrong with them. Whether it is fumes from the roasting pigs, something seeping up through the bottom of the pools, or some strange trace in the water, beware! Some Fulbrighter's got together to try the traditional meal, as Deborah reports and depicts. Julia, a Prague blogger, memorably describes the carp sellers:

It's that time of year again, when men in green stand with cigarettes dangling over baby swimming pools, net in hand, while ladies direct them to the choicest fish for their Christmas dinner. (More...)

There was a lot more bustle, but that will have to do until New Year's. Hezké svátky vše!!!

Comments:

Blogger Karla said . . .

Love the Ježíškova pošta. And, um, thanks again for the Karel Gott cd. Now I will never again be at a loss for auditory evidence of his special yodeling style. Perhaps we should play it at the New Year's potluck. Hubert may not have heard enough Karel Gott yet. (I guess I could see if the calendars are discounted yet, and hang one over the toilet or the washing machine.)    

12:23 PM, December 29, 2005


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