So once again this post will be divided into two parts because I really didn’t see the point of making two separate posts about a similar topic, also if I keep up making so many things about Christmas then it’ll stop being a blog about my exchange and it’ll become a blog a lot czech Christmas, not that that’s a bad thing though, Czech Christmas is pretty great. So jumping right into things, the first part will be about my rotary Christmas meeting that was here in Prague and the second part will be about my class’s Christmas party that was of course also in Prague;)
Rotary Christmas meeting
So this meeting was all about Christmas in the Czech Republic, we did a gift exchange, a sweets competition and some other Christmas traditions.
We all arrived at the hotel at around three and we got to our rooms and got organized and everything. This was really easy for me because it was in Prague I didn’t have to travel at all, which was kind of nice, but I do with I had gotten a chance to see another Czech or Slovak city. Once everyone was here and we had hung out a bit we all went to dinner at a nearby restaurant, it was really nice to see all my friends again, and I got to talk with many of them during dinner. After dinner we headed back to the hotel for the dreaded language test. I was pretty nervous because I did horribly on my first language test, but that was back in September, almost four months before the time of the test, five months before I’m actually writing this darn blog post though. So the language test was composed of two parts, the written and the speaking. On the written part they basically were checking to see if we knew the basic verb conjugations for the most common verbs and then we had to write ten sentences on our favourite day in the Czech Republic(baking and decorating gingerbread with my family). The speaking test was basically where Mr. Barak, the chairman of rotary your exchange here asked us a bunch of questions, most of them were pretty simple like do you like it here, how is your host family, what’s you’re favourite czech food and a bunch of other simple questions, there were some harder ones but he only asked the kids that were the best in czech those questions. We got back our results on Saturday(or Sunday? I can’t remember), and I got a one on the speaking and a two on the writing. Now Mom and Dad, before you freak out that I failed the test, he czech marking system is different than the one back home, one is the best and five is the worst, so I did fine, no need to worry thank you very much. After the language test we all went to sleep because we were all very tired.
On Saturday we woke up, had breakfast and then left for a walking tour of Prague. We started at the Prague castle, in St. Vitus’s cathedral and went down to the bridge and then on to old town square with a stop along the way to the church of baby Jesus. St Vitus’ cathedral was so amazing, I had never been in it before and I’m so glad I got the chance now. I wasn’t really looking forward to the tour because as I live here I already have learnt a lot about the buildings and the history of lots of things but I did learn a few things, one of which being that before the streets had names and the houses had numbers the way everyone had to address letters was (for example) to the house of the white swan. Which meant that the letter carrier had to find the house with the carving or painting of a white swan above the door and deliver the letter there, it wa so terry interesting and on some houses in the old parts of Prague you can still see the signs above the doorway. After learning about that we walked down the the church of the infant Jesus, it’s a church dedicated to the statue of baby Jesus they have inside and they dress him up and it’s a really important part of Prague, and it’s apparently quite famous around the world too. After that we walked on towards the other side of the river and crossed the Charles bridge, I didn’t really like this part because it’s always soooooo full of tourists and it’s so hard to just walk in a straight line. I’ve also crossed it a few times and the novelty has worn off, it was still fun to take photos with my friends though, but after the photos I tried to speedwalk across the bridge without much success. After the bridge we walked to the Palladium shopping Center for lunch and shopping. By this time it was about two in the afternoon and we all had had breakfast at seven thirty, so we were all starving. We all had inch in the food court and then lots of people did some shopping, I wasn’t really interesting in that because a) I live here and I can go to palladium and any other shopping mall whenever I want to and b) I was exhausted and all I wanted to do was sleep and eat, wich I did, well the eating part at least. After palladium we walked over it the old town square and spend time at the Christmas market there. The one in Old town square is the biggest and most impressive in Prague, but that also meant that it was packed with tourists, I walked around a bit but everyone was shoulder to shoulder like sardines and it wasn’t very pleasant. I found that the smaller Christmas markets had fewer people and they had s much more enjoyable atmosphere because of that.
Once we were back at the hotel we had dinner and then sang a few carols in czech. This was very fun for everyone, I think all of us inbounds said most of the words incorrectly but it was still a great time and a good laugh. After the carols we had a quick presentation about the travel rules, nothin we hadn’t heard before but it was still good to have a refresher.
Once the presentation was done we went back into the main room to try a czech tradition, putting candles in walnuts and floating them on water to tell your future or your fortune. It was fun and apparently I should stick close to my friends this year, which I was planning on doing anyways but it’s still nice to get confirmation that my choice is a good one from a walnut;). Once the walnuts were all burnt or sunk we started the gift exchange, the idea was to have it be sort of like a secret Santa but a gift that’s suitable for everyone, and then to assign each gift a number and then everyone picks a number from the hat and is given a gift. Overall it worked well, I got a little notebook that has cute owls on it so yay? It was super fun though becassue at the same time as the gift exchange we were also eating Christmas sweets. Some of it was czech and some of it was also from various home countries, but it was all delicious. After all the gifts had been exchanged and the food all eaten, well almost all there was too much to eat so there was some leftovers, we all headed to bed.
The next morning, on Sunday, everyone headed home on the train or on a bus and I headed by tram back home. Overall it was a much nicer trip than a train, for that reason I’m glad the meeting was in Prague instead of some other city.
The whole meeting was amazing and I had a wonderful time talking with everyone!
My class’s Christmas party
The Friday before the Christmas break started we had our class Christmas party, it was really fun and I had a great time with my class.
On that Friday school started at 8:45 instead of the normal 8:00, but did I know that nooooo. So I showed up to a completely empty school and I kinda panicked and then I texted my friend who let me know that school was starting later that day, I then checked the school website for my schedule and found out that if I had been smart the night before I would have checked it and found out that it was starting later. So that was a great start to the day, luckily the rest of the day was much better, and my friends and I had a good laugh about me showing up early once school had actually started.
In class we played a bunch of games and just overall hung out and talked. A bunch of people brought assortments of cukrovi(read my previous Christmas posts if you don’t know what those are) and I got to try a bunch of different types. They were all really yummy. After a while we did the gift exchange and that was really fun. Here in the Czech Republic it’s a bit different because here you buy gifts for all of your friend group(for me that was every girl in my class) instead of just your best friends like in Canada. I like both ways of doing things but I have to say that one is much easier than the other on my wallet.
After the gift exchange we all had lunch and then walked through Prague to a cafe where we had hot chocolate together. I had such a great day with my classmates and I made many great memories. I don’t have any photos of the class party but I do have one of the crishtmas tree, sorry there’s not more.
So that’s everything for this post! I hope you enjoyed it, if you have any questions feel free to leave a comment down below, I’ll do my best to answer it quickly.
i hope you enjoyed this post and check back in the next couple of weeks for another one!
Bye for now,
Wow! Another really late post from me! This is getting to be a trend, well I guess it's no surprise for anyone who knows me, I sure do procrastinate a lot. So anyways, this post is about my Christmas in the Czech Republic, the title "Vánoce v české republice" means "Christmas in the Czech Republic". At first I was a bit nervous for Christmas, everyone told me that it would be the time that I get the most homesick, so I wasn’t looking forward to that, but there was so much to look forward to, baking with my family, decorating, going into the forest to find a tree(now it wasn't the tree for my family, but it was still fun to help pick it out), the Christmas markets and everything else. I'm going to be seperating this post into two seperate parts, one for before Christmas, all the prep, and some of the traditions and the second being the actual Christmas day and what I did then as well as the traditions of the day.
.Christmas in Czechia is really special, they bake amazing sweets, have great Christmas markets and decorate their trees really nicely. Around the start of December families start baking gingerbread people, to decorate as the members of the family and different "cukrovi". Cukrovi are the different little cookies that are made for the time around Christmas, each family has their favourite type and they bake up to six or seven different types a year, however some of my exchange friends had families who baked over 10 different types!. That's a lot of baking!!
In my family we made vanilkove rohlicky and these chocolate coconut ones, and then my host grandma made about six others. My favourites were the vanilkove rohlicky, the ones with some jam or nutela between two cookies, these little chocolate ones and of course good old fashioned gingerbread. In my previous post I mentioned that I made and decorated gingerbread with my family, and then with my sister I made vanilkove rohlicky. The cookies are meant to be eaten from the 24th until... well, until they're all done, so for us it took while because there were so many(but I wasn't complaining AT ALL). We decorated our tree with our gingerbread families, my family had all of them plus some extended family, and then I made my Canadian family too. They also hang these little gummie candies on the tree as well as chocolate ball.
At the start of December we also started decorating everything for Christmas, the advent calendar was put up and Klára and I made two wreaths, one was for the door, and the other was for the table. On the one for the table there were four candles, and every advent Sunday a candle was lit. I’m not exactly sure what the advent candles or the advent Sunday’s are meant to symbolize, but it’s still a really nice tradition(and one that I’ll have to do more research on;).
On about the 10th of December the Christmas markets start getting set up, they're so amazing and I just love the feeling of festivity thats all around them. There were lots, the largest being Old Town square, I only visited that one once because it was super super busy. One of my favourites was the one at Namesti Miru as well as the one at Namesti Republiky. At the markets you can buy traditional mulled wine(Svarak) as well as honey wine and Christmas Punch. There were also a variety of things that would make good presents, scarves, gloves, paintings, christmas ornaments, and many other things, there were also many types of food, like sausages, and of course trdelnik.
Another really traditional thing that Czech people do before Christmas is they watch fairy tales, these fairy tales many people watched when they were children and they’re always aired in the weeks leading up to Christmas. The most famous one is “Tři oříšky pro Popelku” which is the Czech version of Cinderella. Overall the preparations before Christmas in Czechia are amazing. Below you’ll see photos of the time leading up to Christmas, I have some photos of the hristmas market there, making cookies, decorating cookies, the final products of the cookies(there may be a trend to this post;) and photos of me and my mom and sister at the Christmas market in Annaberg, Germany as well as me, my sister and my sister’s friend at another Christmas market in Germany, but I forget exactly where, it was a ten minute drive though, also there are Christmas markets in Prague, the one in Vaclavske Namesti and the one Namesti Miru.
.mIn the Czech Republic they do all their celebrations on the 24th, and the 25th is just treated as a day of rest. All in all I think thats what made me the most homesick, the timing. I was fine on the 24th but on the 25th I knew that my whole family was celebrating and I wasn't there. But less sad stuff, lets get right to it.
On Christmas Eve Day there is a tradition where you can't eat until Christmas Dinner, if you sucseed and you don't eat you get to see the Golden Pig. I'm not exactly sure where this tradition comes from but I'm very glad that my family didn't do it, they just said we can't eat meat unil the Christmas meal. We spent Christmas morning relaxing, until lunch and then we had this dish called kuba and Vanocka, Christmas bread. I'm not exactly sure what kuba is, I thinks its made of mushrooms and maybe lentils?? Whatever it is, I'm happy I had the experine of trying it but I don't think I'll ever have it again unless if I'm in Czechia for Christmas again. The Vanocka was really good, the bread it's self is very sweet and fluffy and there are shaved almonds on the top. Vanocka looks really neat because it is braided, and then placed on top of each other, I'm not quite sure how to explain it but it makes it rather dificult to make. After lunch we tried to do the “fortune telling” tradition of dropping melted led into cold water and then the shape of t tells us how are year will be. It was rest but the canldle that we were using wasn’t very hotbso we decided to do t at my host grandparents house. Side note: I got one of these sets for Christmas as a joint gift from some of my classmates so it’s definitely something I’ll be doing at home, even though the accuracy of the fortune telling is debatable.
At around three we went over to my host grandparents house in Carlsbad. My host grandparents are so kind, I loved spending time with them. When we got there I helped prepare the carp with my host grandma and my sister, Klara. It was fun because I was talking with my host grandma and we managed to communicate even though she speaks very little english, and I speak very little czech.
A traditional Czech Christmas meal is a lentil soup, so that we'll get money in the coming year(I guess lentils look like money?), carp, and potato salad. The carp was okay I loved the potato salad, even though it was very different than what I was expecting.
After dinner we sang carols all together and I misponounced every single word but it was still so fun. We also played darts, which I discovered, with no surprise, that I am TERRIBLE at. It was very very funny though, and I still had a great time. After darts it was time for presents, I got really good presents and I'm so thankful to my host family as well as my family in Canada for sending me them. The present that takes the cake is a pillow with a photo of me and my host family, I love it so much and it will definitly be in my room in Canada.
I think that's all for my Christmas post, thanks so much for taking the time to read this and I hope you enjoy the photos down below. The photos below are of Christmas Day.
Thank you so much for taking the time to read this update, I’m really sorry it’s so late, I got caught up with life here and also procrastination(okayyyyy mostly procrastination). Hopefully I’ll have a few more updates in the coming weeks about the Christmas rotary meeting(okay that’s ones reeeeaaaallly late), the winter rotary meeting and an appreciation post for my previous family(the one you see in all these photos), but like the last times where I’ve tried to set a goal for myself in terms of posting here it hasn’t really worked out, sooooooo maybe don’t get your hopes up.
Anyways, thank you once again, and check back here in a months time and you may be surprised with another oost(or you might not, I’m going to keep you guessing;).
Bye for now,