In Mailbox this week: the new three-tier maternity leave system in the Czech Republic, the upcoming presidential elections in the Czech Republic, and the mysterious “zlaté prasátko”. Listeners quoted: Beverly Smith, Luke Mitchell and Gwen E. Nemec.

Welcome to Mailbox, the weekly programme that airs your views and comments on Radio Prague broadcasts and also tries to answer whatever questions you may have about life in the Czech Republic.

In last week’s Talking Point Ruth Fraňková focused on the new three-tier maternity leave system in the Czech Republic. Beverly Smith who listens to Radio Prague on FM in Canada heard the programme:

“Hello from Canada. I very much enjoy your show every time I hear it (early morning here) and today's show I found particularly useful for my research. I am a long-time advocate of valuing care-giving of children, and care of the sick, handicapped and elderly. What your government has done is very interesting as a way to value both women's paid work and women's unpaid work. Many governments including my own really only value women's paid work. Thanks for this info.”

Vaclav Havel
We’re glad that Radio Prague is useful for you in your professional life. This question came from Luke Mitchell, a visitor to our website:

“I was wondering if you could tell me who wrote 'Václav Havel: from ‘bourgeois reactionary’ to president' on your website. Also, when it was written? It’s just that I am trying to reference it in my essay and I don’t know the author or date of this particular article.”

The article was written by Radio Prague’s former editor-in-chief David Vaughan. It dates from February 2003 when Václav Havel’s last term of office ended. As a matter of fact, the first term of office of Mr Havel’s successor, Václav Klaus, is about to expire and the date of the presidential election is fast approching. The first vote will take place on February 8. You can find the profiles of the two candidates, the incumbent Václav Klaus and his challenger Jan Švejnar, on Radio Prague’s website. If you click the “Presidential Elections” banner on the main page, you will also find the links there to all related articles.

A quick look back at Christmas now. This e-mail came from Gwen E. Nemec from the US.

“My aunt and mother are interested in finding a recipe for zlaté prasátko or golden pig. Their mother-in-law used to make it every Christmas Eve. I've looked everywhere and all I can find is that this is just a Czech tradition. They said that it was a dessert roll that was soaked in a pan of milk and I believe honey. Could you please let me know if there is such a recipe or if my Grandma just called this special dish... zlaté prasátko. Thank you!”

I’m not sure, Gwen, if we can help you. From what you write it would seem that this particular recipe must have been a special family tradition. The term zlaté prasátko definitely is connected to Czech Christmas and food. But it is not a meal or a dessert. In fact, the “golden pig” has no material form. It is something that you are supposed to see on Christmas Eve after sunset after having fasted all day. Though, I must admit I have never heard of anyone who has actually ever seen this mysterious golden pig on Christmas Eve!

And staying with things mysterious, it’s time to repeat our January listeners’ competition question.

Our January mystery man was a Jewish scholar and chief rabbi in Prague in the latter half of the 16th century. He is buried in the Old Jewish Cemetery in Prague and many legends are connected to his personality.

There will be small gifts from Radio Prague for four of you who send us the correct answer to [email protected] or Radio Prague, 12099 Prague by the end of this month. Thanks for listening and please, keep those letters coming.