Czech holiday traditions celebrated in Czech Village, Cedar Rapids

Article and photos by Cindy Hadish

Royalty at the Tree Lighting Ceremony on December 1. (photo/Cindy Hadish)

Holiday traditions came to life in Czech Village in December, with a Svatý Mikuláš celebration and the Old World Christmas Market. Both are patterned after festivities in the Czech Republic.

The eve of Svatý Mikuláš, known as St. Nicholas in the United States, typically takes place on Dec. 5 in places that observe the Czech tradition. Costumed performers dressed as Svatý Mikuláš, along with an anděl, the Czech word for angel, and čert, a devil, walk the streets to hand out candy to children who have been good or
a raw potato or piece of coal for those on the naughty list.

Members of the Cedar Rapids Czech School Board explained how the holidays are
celebrated in the Czech Republic and taught the audience how to count down from 10 to 1 in Czech, for the lighting of the Czech Village Christmas tree, and how to say Veselé Vánoce – Merry Christmas – in Czech.

Julie, Czech School board member, taught Tree Lighting Ceremony guests some key words to use this holiday season. (photo/Cindy Hadish)

Czech Heritage Singers performing at the Tree Lighting Ceremony in Czech Village. (photo/Cindy Hadish)

The Czech Heritage Singers also entertained the audience, while cookies – another Czech holiday tradition – were given to attendees.

Svatý Mikuláš, the anděl, and čert, and members of the Czech Heritage Foundation Czech Royal Court, led a candlelight procession to the Kosek Bandstand, for the lighting of the Christmas tree.

Leading the way to light the tree in Czech Village. (photo/Cindy Hadish)

That same weekend, the Old World Christmas Market attracted shoppers to the National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library.

The angel, devil, and St. Nicholas at the 8th Annual Old World Christmas Market at the National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library. (photo/Cindy Hadish)

The market, featuring live music and family activities, along with vendors who sell specialty imports and handmade gifts, is a nod to the Prague Christmas markets, held at the Old Town Square and Wenceslaus Square in the Czech Republic.

Annual CHF wreath fundraiser seeks donations
















All are invited to participate! Please bring your wreath/centerpiece/tabletop tree to the National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library (1400 Inspiration Place SW, Cedar Rapids) by Monday, November 26, 2017.

Please attach a donor name to your item, or note who the item is in memory of so appropriate recognition can be given on the item donated. If you have any questions, you are welcome to contact one of the Czech Heritage Foundation wreath fundraiser committee members:
Bonnie Rohlena (
Donna Gruntorad (

Chances will be available to purchase at the National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library’s Old World Christmas Market, with drawings happening at 2:00pm on Sunday, December 3. Funds raised will go toward Czech Heritage youth programs, including the Homestay Program, Czech Heritage royalty, and more. (Visit for more details about Old World Christmas Market.)

Homestay participants share experiences during presentation at the NCSML

Photo/Cindy Hadish


On Saturday, November 4, students who participated in Czech Heritage Foundation’s Homestay Program shared photos and stories about their experiences in the Czech Republic this year. Thank you to the National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library for hosting the Homestay presentation in the Skala Bartizal Library, to the student presenters, and to those who were able to attend!

Homestay participant Emily Nejdl talked about her experience visiting the Czech Republic and living with a host family. Photo/Cindy Hadish.

Homestay participant Brennan Bell with Czech language instructor Lucie Heck. Photo/Cindy Hadish.

Emily Nejdl with Lucie Heck. Photo/Cindy Hadish.

Thanks to everyone who could attend! Photo/Cindy Hadish.

Czech Homestay presentation set for Saturday, November 4

Applications being accepted for student exchange program
Article by Cindy Hadish

CEDAR RAPIDS (Nov. 1, 2017) — Students from Iowa who traveled to the Czech Republic this summer during the revitalized Czech Heritage Foundation’s Homestay program will present photos and information from their trip this Saturday, Nov. 4.

The presentation will take place from 1-2 p.m. at the National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library, 1400 Inspiration Place SW. The Czech Heritage Foundation restarted its Homestay program this year under the direction of board members Holly Stepanek and Rachel Wobeter, who both participated in the program as students.

Under the program, Iowa high school students travel to the Czech Republic, attend school, visit area attractions and live with a host family to experience Czech culture for three weeks in the summer. Their Czech counterparts then do the same in Iowa. More than 100 high school students have participated in the program, funded by the Czech Heritage Foundation, since the educational program began in 1983.

This year’s Homestay program took Iowa participants to stay with families in Hradec Králové, a city similar in size to Cedar Rapids, northeast of the Czech capital of Prague. Photos and information about Hradec Králové and other points of interest the students visited will be presented during Saturday’s program.

Students preschool through college are offered free admission to museum exhibits this Saturday during Free First Saturdays, and the Homestay presentation, in the museum’s library, is free for everyone.

Applications for the 2018 Homestay program are available on the Czech Heritage Foundation’s website:


The Czech Heritage Foundation, a non-profit organization based in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, is committed to preserving, celebrating and maintaining the rich culture of the Czech community for future generations. Membership is open to all.

Recent Royal Court appearances

Miss Czech-Slovak Iowa Saddah Hadish greeted visitors to BrewNost! 2017 at the National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library on Sept. 15. (photo/Cindy Hadish)

The Czech Heritage Foundation’s Royal Court has been quite active this fall. Among other special events, royalty attended the annual St. Wenceslaus Goulash Day (Sept. 24), CzechFest in Czech Village (Sept. 24), and BrewNost! at the National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library (Sept. 15). They’re already gearing up for a busy holiday season!

CzechFest 2017! (photo/Cindy Hadish)

Members of the Royal Court visiting Goulash Day at St. Wenceslaus. (photo/Cindy Hadish)

The Royal Court was invited to judge the scarecrow contest during CzechFest in Czech Village. (photo/Cindy Hadish)