Czech Culture & Adaptation Holidays

Mikuláš

December 5, 2008
scene of miniature Christmas village

Celebrating at the Sokolovna in Únětice

For the fourth year in a row, I wonder what I’ve gotten myself into as I celebrate the Czech holiday of Sv. Mikuláš (St. Nicholas). For the past month, my children grow wide-eyed each time we pass the cukrárny (sweet shops) window displays of chocolate figures in the shapes of Mikuláš (St. Nicholas) and his helpers, an angel and a devil. While I grew up knowing “the Devil” as Lucifer from the Christian Biblical tradition and seeing secular devilish creatures only on Halloween, in the Czech Republic, Mikuláš’s devil side-kick is a key component of pre-Christmas rituals. If Mikuláš reads in his ledger that a child has been naughty, the child does not only receive a lump of coal, but Czech tradition requires the devil to put the child in a bag and take him back to hell.

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