Mikuláš Day: A Czech Tradition

These past few days, my son has been playing this game where he says  “Čert”, then runs off and hides under the covers.    The first time he said it I didn’t understand what he was talking about until it occured to me that he was actually referring to a Czech christmas day tradition, the celebration of Mikuláš name day (St. Nicholas’ name day).    Although Czechs don’t believe in Santa Claus, they believe in St. Nicholas, his other personality.

Because I am still not used to this name day tradition, I completely forgot about Mikuláš Day, which is a tradition that is widely celebrated here in Czech.  When I saw one of my friends’ picture of the celebration, I felt bad about not giving Jakub the opportunity to celebrate this tradition.  But what I saw in their school’s photo board brought a smile into my face.  He was able to celebrate Mikuláš Day after all.

Earlier that day, they were drawing angels.

Photo courtesy of Zuzana Yousif
Photo courtesy of Zuzana Yousif

Then they were out for a walk.  It was snowing that day.

Photo courtesy of Zuzana Yousif
Photo courtesy of Zuzana Yousif

On their way back from the walk in the locker area, the mascots for Mikuláš Day were there.

Photo courtesy of Zuzana Yousif
Photo courtesy of Zuzana Yousif

It was funny to see my son’s apprehensive face beside the devil (Čert) mascot.  So this was the reason for the game.

Photo courtesy of Zuzana Yousif
Photo courtesy of Zuzana Yousif

Here in Czech, the whole celebration starts on the early evening of December 5th.  Traditionally, three personalities  “Mikuláš, Anděl a Čert” (St Nicholas, the angel and the Devil), visit children at home to ask them if they have been good or bad.  If they have been good, they will be rewarded with candies or chocolates.  Otherwise, they will be rewarded with coal or potatoes.

Mikuláš Day signals the start of Christmas.  In my household, we haven’t even put up a tree yet since we are in the process of moving to our new place.  I’m glad that he’s in school and got to celebrate Mikuláš Day nevertheless.