Vote for best Christmas carol sent in by Czech expat communities abroad!

Czech expats the world over are taking part in a Best Christmas Carol competition. Give them your vote!

Christmas is just around the corner and despite the coronavirus pandemic preparations for the big day have reached fever pitch here in the Czech Republic. Czechs abroad who in line with Czech tradition also hold the main celebration on the eve of Christmas Day are also counting the hours to the big family diner of fish soup, fried carp and potato salad, followed by a vast assortment of traditional Christmas cookies and long awaited gift-giving.

Many people with Czech roots who live far from their homeland maintain these traditions as part of their Czech legacy handing down the tradition of Jezisek,or Baby Jesus bringing gifts, recipes for the best Christmas cookies and Christmas carols from generation to generation.

Czech Schools Abroad and various Czech organizations around the world play a big part in upholding these traditions. They not only keep alive a knowledge of the Czech language, culture and history but also create a feeling of togetherness among communities with Czech roots.

Many Czech communities abroad keep in touch via Czech cultural centers and the expat service of Czech Radio – the Czech language service of Radio Prague International, which regularly brings interviews with Czech expats, informs about their events and occasionally holds competitions for them. The idea to connect expats through carols was born in Luxembourg, the initiative of the folklore ensemble MELIMELO which has an eight-year tradition, bringing together about 40 children and 10 adults. The competition was promoted among expats the world over by Mrs. Eva Klosová. Thanks also to her efforts and enthusiasm, we annually receive entries from round the world – performed by the youngest generation of Czechs or people with Czech roots living abroad.

And although getting together to practice and record a carol is no mean feat in the midst of a pandemic, they pulled all the stops to get their carol to us.

The Czech School in Pittsburgh sent us its recording of one of the best known and most loved Czech carols - Štědrý večer nastal – Christmas Eve is here.

The Czech School Without Borders in London, which has over two hundred students, also sent us an entry this year. Last year, the school was forced to switch to online activities. This year the children were able to meet again in the run up to Christmas and enjoy the Czech tradition of St. Nicolas, the Devil and Angel on December 5th who hand out small rewards to children who have been good and raise a warning finger to those who have misbehaved in the past year. This year the Czech School in London sent us a much loved Czech carol called Pásli ovce Valaši.

The very same carol came to us from Minnesota from a somewhat older children’s choir. No less charming, as you can hear and very energetic!

A very big thank you to the choir of small singers in New York who sent in another Czech favourite –a carol you will hear in every Czech household over Christmas - Půjdem spolu do Betléma-We’ll go to Bethlehem together. Recorded next to a beautiful, bright and shining Christmas tree at the Hall and Beer Garden. Well done NY!

The very same carol came to us from Luxembourg, where the Melimelo folk music association could only practice with a limited number of choir singers this year. They recorded their video on December 11 within a small Christmas gathering and even though not all members of the ensemble could attend, the Luxembourg video is traditionally of high quality. A big thank you!

And the same carol from a small choir of children singing in the classroom in Naples. Again a very big thank you for that message of good cheer at Christmas!

We received a very professional recording and performance from the Czech school in Rome courtesy of teacher Klara Boštíková and her choir who gave a concert at the Basilica of St. Mary of the Altar of Heaven in Rome. Well done – that rendition of Den přeslavný warms the heart!

A competition entry also arrived from Colombia. "The Covid pandemic is draining our strength and makes it difficult to cooperate as we would like.  But even so, we would like to join in with a small video of Christmas carols. The choir is a little smaller than last year, but they tried and I think this kind of endeavour will help us not to lose faith. Hopefully our small contribution will help Czechs the world over to bring to mind their compatriots in Colombia ", Eliška Krausová writes. No doubt at all about that Colombia - and Merry Christmas!

Only six carollers in Calgary- but no less enthusiasm in their rendition of Christmas is here! Merry Christmas to you Calgary!

A big THANK YOU to all the communities and choirs who took the trouble to record a Christmas carol and send in an entry this year despite the hurdles that it involved. I sincerely hope that it helped bring you a bit of good cheer this Christmas and that it will spread good cheer among those who will listen and enjoy.

Have a listen to them and please give the one you like best your vote.

Voting will end at midnight on December 27. Merry Christmas and God Bless. We leave you with a piano rendition by a small pianist in San Francisco.