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.