Thursday, 15 December 2011

the first snow

We had the first snow of the winter on the evening of St Nicholas, the day when Christmas celebrations begin in the Czech Republic. Unfortunately it was blowing such a gale that we had a virtual whiteout, which meant I was unable to go into town to photograph the celebrations.

The town squares fill up with people dressed as the saint, accompanied by devils and angels, ready for the ritual which repeated in homes too.

Small bells ring and chains rattle and the children, who have been getting more and more excited all day, are asked by St Nicholas if they have been good. On one side of the saint is a devil, on the other an angel - the two sides of man's nature with the saint a balance between the two. The children recount some of their achievements and some of their misdeeds and maybe say a poem and are rewarded with a present.

After the happy children have gone home, the adults get to play. St Nicholases, angels and devils retire to the pub for a warming slivovice or a cold beer.

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