Holiday Calendar 2004

From traditional Czech customs to Kwanzaa celebrations, here's PTV's multinational, multicultural seasonal countdown

NOVEMBER

Tuesday 30th

Czech: St. Andrew's Day: First day of Advent. Historically, this was a day for fortune-telling in the Czech lands.

DECEMBER

Saturday 4th

Czech: St. Barbara's Day: An Advent holiday that, historically, was celebrated with a parade in the Czech lands. It's still considered lucky to cut a twig from a cherry tree on this day, and put it in a vase. (This, apparently, will help you find a partner for life.)

Sunday 5th

Czech: St. Nicholas's Eve (Mikuláš)

Tuesday 7th

Jewish: Hanukkah - the eight-day Jewish festival of lights - starts at sunset, beginning eight days of dreidel-spinning and menorah-lighting action, to commemorate the "miracle of the oil" at the Jerusalem Temple.

Monday 13th

Czech: St. Lucy's Day: An Advent holiday once celebrated in the Czech lands with a parade, in which "Lucy" was a mysterious masked figure who threatened to cut children's stomachs open. Exactly what this had to do with the real St. Lucy - a virgin martyr from 3rd century Sicily - is anybody's guess.

Thursday 16th

Jewish: Hanukkah ends.

Friday 24th

Czech: Štědrý den ("Generous Day"): Czech families sit down to a Christmas dinner of carp and potato salad, and open presents delivered by Baby Jesus after sunset on the 24th.

Western: Christmas Eve

These two days are also referred to as the 1st and 2nd Christmas Holiday, or the Christmas Feast (Boží hod vánoční) and St. Stephen's Day (Sv. Štěpán). On St. Stephen's Day, children, students, teachers, and the poor would go around people's homes singing Christmas carols.

Saturday 25th

Czech: 1. svátek vánoční ("1st Christmas Holiday"), also know as Boží hod vánoční ("Christmas Feast").

Western: Christmas Day

Sunday 26th

Czech: 2. svátek vánoční ("2nd Christmas Holiday"), also known as St. Stephen's Day (Sv. Štěpán) - the day when Good King Wenceslas - a Czech, of course - looked out.

African-American: First Day of Kwanzaa

Friday 31st

Czech/Western: New Year's Eve: Silvestr is a big deal in the Czech Republic, with pretty much the whole population out on the streets, drinking sparkling Champagne-style wine (Sekt) and letting off fireworks. The night get its name because December 31st is the feast day of Pope Sylvester I.

African-American: Seventh (Last) Day of Kwanzaa

JANUARY

Thursday 6th

Western Christian: Epiphany, also known as the Twelfth Day of Christmas. (December 26th is the First Day of Christmas.) This feast day originally celebrated the birth of Christ but the western churches have since moved Christmas Day back to December 25th.

Friday 7th

Eastern Christian: Russian and Serbian Orthodox Christmas Day

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