6:53 am

Feast of sv. Mikulas

In Czech, St. Nicholas is sv. Mikuláš. He does not visit children on Christmas Eve*, but rather on the night of December 5, the eve of his feast. Unlike his English-speaking counterpart, sv. Mikuláš is still a bishop who wears his miter and chasuble and carries a bishop’s crook. He is also accompanied by a devil, who doles out coal or potatoes to bad children (or even threatens to carry them off in his sack), and by an angel, who gives sweets and toys to good children. After answering questions about his or her behavior the past year, the child is supposed to recite a poem or sing a song, I suppose to purchase forgiveness.

Mikuláš and his companions traditionally visit households with small children. There are also public celebrations at Staroměstské náměstí and Náměstí Míru.

These pictures were taken at the Náměstí Míru celebration:

Caledonian School was soliciting teachers to dress up one of the trio to visit classes for children; my schedule did not permit me to do so, however. One of my students observed, though, that dressing up as the devil is much more popular than dressing as the angel. Not (only) for the obvious reason, but because it’s hard to reconcile the angel’s filmy robes with the season!

*It’s the Infant Jesus (Ježíšek) who delivers presents on Christmas Eve, and don’t you forget it! Even the most vocal atheist in Prague seems to have no compunction about, or to perceive any contradiction in, identifying Ježíšek as the source of Christmas gifts.

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