Фото: Кристина Макова

Today in Mailbox: "Golden Sunday", Czech Christmas carols on Radio Prague's website, poor shortwave reception in the Chicago area. Listeners quoted: Mark Zubik, Texas; Mark Kipperman, Chicago.

Hello and welcome to Mailbox on this 23rd of December, just a day before Christmas Eve, which as you may know is the most important day of Christmas celebrations in this country. Today is called “Zlata nedele” or “Golden Sunday” and it is often devoted to last minute Christmas shopping and frantic house cleaning, I’m afraid.

December 24th or Christmas Eve is the day when the family gathers around a festive meal of fried carp and potato salad in the evening and afterwards people open their presents underneath the Christmas tree.

Let’s now get on to your letters. Mark Zubik from Texas sent us this note:

“I hope you will have the wonderful Christmas Carols you posted in the past again this year. Actually, it should be a tradition every December.”

It has indeed become a tradition, Mark. The carols, as well as many Christmas-related articles, photographs and even recipes can be found on our website All you need to do is click on the Czech Christmas banner in the top half of the main page. You can also take part in our special Christmas competition, which incidentally, concerns Christmas music. Its banner alternates with the Czech Christmas one, so if you don’t see it immediately it should appear when you refresh our front page.

We appreciate the fact that even in such a busy time of the year that the month of December is for many of you, you actually find the time to listen to Radio Prague’s broadcasts. However, Mark Kipperman from Chicago has lately been experiencing bad reception.

“I did hear Radio Prague last night 5990 at 0410. The discussion seemed to be about Feminism, and Mary Wollstonecraft, in Prague. But it was difficult to hear. I am in the Chicago suburbs: we had no signal at all for about two weeks. Perhaps there was no transmission. Last night's was poor. I had hoped we would be back to good reception (after some years of poor or no reception), via Sackville, but that does not seem to be the case right now. In any case, I hope you return to us in the Central US; there is a large Czech community in Chicago, and I like to report to them what I hear.”

I forwarded the letter to Czech Radio’s Oldrich Cip who knows all about shortwave transmission and he says that this particular problem affects not only Radio Prague but the whole community of shortwave broadcasters. Apparently, we are at the moment at an extremely low stage of the sunspot activity cycle and this adversely affects the ionosphere especially during the long winter nights on the Northern hemisphere. Even the lowest frequencies of the shortwave frequency spectrum are not reflected by the ionosphere under such conditions. Hopefully the lowest point of the sunspot activity cycle is now coming to an end. And just a quick note: During November and December 2007 Radio Prague has set up an experimental transmission in English via Sackville at 0200 UTC on 5995 kHz - this time-slot should be somewhat better for reception in the Chicago area.

Let me thank you again for the Christmas and New Year’s greetings that have been arriving in great numbers, as well as your reception reports and competition answers. Our monthly listeners’ competition is still going on – you have more than a week to send us your suggestions as to who our December mystery Czech is.

This month our mystery Czech is a lady. She was born one hundred years ago in Prague. This famous soprano was a star of the Metropolitan Opera in the 1940s and 1950s. She died in New York in 1994.

The address for your answers is [email protected] or Radio Prague, 12099 Prague.

This is all for this edition of Mailbox. We’ll be back same time, same place on December 30th. Wherever you are around the globe, have a wonderful Christmas, if you observe the holiday, and keep tuning in to Radio Prague which will air special Christmas-themed programmes over the coming days. Good-bye.