The New Year is celebrated in the Czech Republic similar to traditions we see around the world – with friends, and relatives, at pubs, concerts, and restaurants.
The New Year is greeted with champagne, cheers, and firework shows near city squares. You can watch the countdown on major TV networks and it is traditionally followed by the Czech national anthem.
On New Year’s Day, the Czechs often gather around to watch the President’s New Years Speech (1p.m) – where he evaluates the previous year, and announces his predictions and expectations for the coming year.
These days, pork is eaten on New Year’s Day with a side of lentils (čočka) topped with a fried egg (eating anything with wings is also said to make your luck fly away!).
The dish is eaten for prosperity in the New Year — and it makes for a pretty good hangover cure as well, as New Year’s Eve celebrations include a healthy share of pilsner and sparkling wines.
Czech New Year’s table
On the New Year’s Eve table you will find the Czech open-faced sandwiches chlebíčky of various kinds, nuts (oříšky), crisps (or chips) brambůrky and other snacks.
Midnight is traditionally celebrated by drinking Champaign, or rather some local brand of sparkling wine also known as sekt.
Some people still keep the tradition of eating a boiled pork head at midnight with grated horseradish.
Those who are awake at lunchtime on New Year’s Day should eat lots of lentils (čočka) because in Czech tradition lentils symbolize money. And as Czechs say Jak na Nový rok, tak po celý rok – “As on New Year’s Day so the whole year.”
Instead of lentils, some families cook broth – broth with semolina (vývar s krupicí).
New Year’s Eve and day superstitions
There are certain superstitions connected to New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day in the Czech Republic.
- There must not be any clothes hanging on a clothesline during the last night of the year, otherwise, a member of the family will die next year.
- People are careful about the way they treat each other on New Year’s Day since they tend to believe that the way New Year’s Day is will determine the rest of the year.
- It is not recommended to eat poultry on New Year’s Day – your luck might fly away from you!
- Pouring lead is also a tradition for looking into the future in the Czech Republic. The custom of cutting an apple in half and reading one’s fate from the shape of the core is even older. If the seeds form a cross, bad things are coming; stars represent luck.