Christmas is a special time in the Czech Republic, with many delicious foods prepared for the joyous occasion. Most of the cooking and baking usually begins on St. Nicholas Day (December 6th) and ends with a large feast on Christmas Eve (December 24th).
Here are just a few of the traditional Christmas foods enjoyed in the Czech Republic.
Veselé Vánoce! (Merry Christmas!)
This sweet bread is served around Christmas as either a side dish, a dessert, or for Christmas breakfast. It is made with yeast, eggs, flour, butter, milk. The dough also contains raisins and almonds, and is braided like challah. It has a reputation for being difficult to prepare, so in many households, superstitions and special customs are attached to the baking process. At one time in history, vánocka could only be made by a baker who was a guild craftsman.
The main course served for Christmas dinner in the Czech Republic is fried carp. One week before Christmas, fisherman with their large tanks packed full of carp appear on the streets. Many people buy their carps live and keep them alive until Christmas Eve to be killed and cooked. The custom started in the 16 century when monasteries in southern Bohemia began constructing special fishponds for raising carp during the 40-day Lenten period leading to Easter.
Potato salad is often accompanied with fried carp which is served for Christmas dinner. There are many versions of this dish but the main ingredients include potatoes, peas, onions, carrots, parsley, celery, pickled gherkins, eggs and mayonnaise.
Moravian Christmas Cookies
Moravian Christmas cookies originated in Moravia, a historic region of the East Czech Republic. These spicy ginger-molasses cookies are often decorated with sugar icing and cut into various shapes to be eaten and hung on Christmas trees.
Vanilla Crescent Rolls
Vanilla crescent rolls or vanilkove rohlicky are a common treat throughout Central and Eastern Europe. In the Czech Republic, these cookies and many other desserts are baked for Christmas. The cookies are usually made with ground almonds or ground walnuts with vanilla sugar sprinkled on top.