Nativity scenes are everywhere this time of year but the biggest nativity scene in the world is in the Czech Republic. Czech supermodels are to attract more tourists to Prague. If they can’t do the trick, nobody can. And where have all the schnitzels gone? Find out more in Magazine with Daniela Lazarova.
Christmas preparations in Czech households have reached a fever pitch – and it is Czech women who carry most of the burden on their shoulders. There is an ingrained belief that at Christmas time the house must be clean and sparkling from the cellar to the attic, the carpets hoovered, every room dusted, the curtains washed and everything in its place. Most Czech women still adhere to this back-breaking tradition even if it leaves them completely drained on Christmas Day and only women in managerial posts take the luxury of getting a cleaning agency to do the job. When they have finished with the cleaning which tends to be late in the evening – they start baking Christmas cookies – ideally a dozen different kinds. This usually keeps them busy for most of December and on Christmas Day when their family gets together to enjoy that special Xmas atmosphere of love and togetherness many women are silently thanking their lucky stars the Christmas marathon is over. Why - may you wonder – is it proving so difficult to root out this perfectionism? I have a fair idea since learning about a pagan Christmas tradition from a Czech ethnographer. In the olden days a so-called council of elders – half a dozen elderly women -went from house to house checking how each housewife had done her work. They wondered around the house, ran their fingers over the mantelpiece for dust, looked under the beds for dust balls and checked out the closets. For some reason they were not allowed to speak but if they found something amiss they would hiss like snakes letting the poor woman know she was a hopeless housewife. So, do we really need to preserve every tradition?
Milan Kral is from the town of Pardubice where they make sensational gingerbread. But unlike many other Czechs who make gingerbread cookies to hang on their Christmas tree, Milan doesn’t like sweets. He’s partial to meat – roast pork, schnitzels and sausages. And this year he decided to decorate his Christmas tree to suit himself – instead of glass balls and gingerbread it is covered with schnitzels. Most people turn away in disgust but Milan says it’s the best Christmas tree he ever had. Well, there’s no accounting for taste – but is this guy really celebrating Christmas or just having a schnitzel orgy?
What would it take to get you to visit Prague if you’ve already been here? How about an invitation from Czech supermodel Petra Nemcova? The Prague Town Hall is looking for ways to attract more tourists to the Czech capital and believes that if supermodels don’t do the trick, nobody will. It has commissioned a publicity campaign in which some of the country’s greatest beauties will invite people to visit the Czech capital, each speaking to them from one of Prague’s famous tourist spots – Charles Bridge., Prague Castle, Wenceslas Square and so on. The advertisement spots are to appear on Fashion TV. So look out for them and see if they don’t tempt you.