Czech Christmas Traditions Explained: Jezisek vs. Santa Claus

Joyful Christmas is celebrated in almost all countries around the world! The period and process depend on cultural and religious customs. Who gives presents on Christmas Eve in the Czech Republic?

One of the traditional symbols of Czech Christmas is Ježíšek, in English “Christ Child”, who brings Christmas presents and places them for children under the Christmas tree.

Ježíšek in the Czech Republic

Certain clues about Ježíšek with Christmas presents come from the 17th century. There was a short mention from the calendar of Šimon Partlic, where it was written that children receive presents from their parents on Christmas Eve.

However, this tradition was not fully accepted until the 19th century. At that time, people imagined Ježíška either as a kind of angelic figure or an invisible Baby Jesus.

Traditionally today, Ježíšek brings presents on Christmas Eve after the first star appears in the sky. He places Christmas presents under a decorated tree without anyone actually seeing him.

Like Santa Claus, Baby Jesus has a residence that children can post letters to. But unlike the Western Santa, Baby Jesus does not live at the North Pole. Instead, he lives in the mountains, in the town of Boží Dar.

The Czech Republic has placed its own spin on Santa Claus which can be enjoyed by children and adults alike. In fact, though attempts at popularizing the Western Santa have spread awareness about the jolly old man in the red velvet suit, the Czechs hold proudly to the tradition of Baby Jesus.

Ježíšek during communism

During more than four decades of communism in Czechoslovakia, the religious aspect of Christmas was downplayed and attempts were made to fully supplant it.

But even under Communism, Christmas was still a holiday, and as noted earlier, it was still Ježíšek who brought children presents placed under the tree.

This despite the communists’ efforts to replace him with Děda Mráz (Grandfather Frost), a mythical Russian import akin to Santa Claus but more grounded in winter, which proved unsuccessful.

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