The run-up to Christmas used to be a hectic time in most Czech households with cleaning, baking and decorating starting in late November. Now things are changing – many Czechs have come to appreciate the luxury of taking it easy and letting professionals bake their cookies, deliver their Christmas tree and decorate their house.
In past years it was unthinkable for a woman to admit she couldn’t cope with the Christmas preparations but with the changing lifestyle and more women in high-powered jobs it is becoming fashionable to get professional help and more and more small agencies have been cropping up and offering their services. One of them is a Christmas tree rental run by Martin Čuba:
“The main idea behind it was to offer an environmentally-friendly service. I always hated artificial trees, and then I heard about this potted tree rental in the United States and we decided to set one up. We offer potted trees which are replanted when people return them after Christmas. We’ve been in business for three years and we still can’t meet demand. Most people see it as an ideal offer –they choose their tree on the internet and we deliver it to their door whenever they say. We practically don’t close.”
Once the tree has arrived there are other professionals ready to give advice on the latest trend in decorations. They rent not only tree and house decorations but are ready to turn your garden into a Christmas fairy tale at short notice – all this at a fraction of the price it would cost you to buy the stuff. Vladimír Jakubec has a rental that specializes not just in Christmas decorations, but also Easter and Halloween, as well as office parties and birthdays.
“The young generation is open to new ideas. They enjoy having a black Christmas tree with orange balls one year and something equally outrageous the next. Of course, some people have Christmas decorations they cherish but even they are happy to rent out bigger, costlier things. And we offer everything you can think of – including larger than life nativity scenes complete with the manger.”
Probably the most time consuming of all the Christmas preparations is the task of baking the traditional Czech Christmas cookies. Housewives roll up their sleeves in late November and are kept busy until Christmas producing a vast number of different varieties which are stored in boxes until Christmas day. Bought stuff never used to taste as good and people shunned it, but in recent years firms have started producing pricy hand-made cookies which taste delicious. And for those who want to enjoy the smell of baking cookies in their own kitchen –pastry chefs will come and make them in your own home – even according to your own family recipe. There are people on standby to help you select gifts for your loved ones and wrap them up. And there are hotels ready to prepare a five-course take away Christmas dinner –including carp and potato salad. In other words Christmas is a breeze. The only thing that agencies are not offering is good cheer – but, doubtless it is just a matter of time before they invent a pill for that as well.