Foretelling the future with Czech Christmas traditions

Czech Christmas (or "Vánoce") is a time of many traditions, with a lot of them concerning predicting the future, bringing success or health.



Lead pouring


One of the traditional Christmas activities is pouring lead and trying to predict one's future. A piece of lead is melted over a candle and then poured into a container with cold water. People then try to guess their future based on the resulting shape.


Floating candles


Another fortune-telling Czech tradition. People place walnut shells with a little candle inside in a bowl of water. Every movement of the shell then has a certain meaning. For example, if it does not move, it means no big life changes within the next year. Shells touching suggest a relationship or a friendship; shell moving away from others signifies a person leaving the family. And if it sinks - that means death or bad luck.


Cutting apples


A simple tradition - people cut an apple in half (from the stem down). If the core inside is shaped like a star, that means happiness, luck and health. A cross means death and a rotten apple core represents sickness.



Carp scales


Czechs traditionally eat carp for Christmas dinner - its scales should be placed under plates or in one's wallet to bring wealth.


No meat before dinner


During Christmas Day, people often cook peas or lentils - so called "food of the poor". Dishes vary from family to family, but the main point is not to eat meat until Christmas dinner - which is usually a fried carp and a potato salad.



Golden piglet


Another Czech Christmas superstition - mostly used to amuse children. It is said that those who manage to fast completely until Christmas dinner can see a vision of a golden piglet. This custom dates back to pagan times - the pig is a promise of abundance ad prosperity, signalling winter solstice and the beginning of the end of winter.


Cherry twigs called "Barborky"


On St. Barbara's day (December 4), girls can put a cherry or apple tree branch into a vase at home. If it blooms on Christmas Day, it was said that the girl would get married within a year. If she had more admirers, she could put their names on the twigs - and she would allegedly marry the ones whose branch bloomed first.


Throwing a shoe


This tradition is also about marriage - the girl should turn her back to the door and throw a shoe over her shoulder. If the shoes stay on the ground with its tip towards the door, that means the girl will get married within a year.