The Czech Guide to a Lucky 2016
Superstitions in the Czech Republic
Czechs have many fun superstitions that can be observed around holiday season. Many come from the times when everyone had farms and lived in a village, but that doesn’t mean that they no longer apply. According to Czech ‘old wives’ tales’, the following customs may bring you good luck, bad luck, predict marriage or death and ensure a good, rich and healthy New Year.
Love Letter Writing: Don’t write a love letter on Christmas day, it could mean that you will break up.
Rifle Shooting: If you shoot a rifle into the direction of the moon on Christmas day, it will bring you luck.
Apple Cutting: The person, who finds a cross out of apple seeds in a cut apple during Christmas dinner, should be worried about their health. Whoever gets undamaged seeds or sees them in a star shape, they will be happy all year.
Field Crossing: One should not walk across a field between Christmas dinner and midnight. Whoever breaks this custom will die within the year.
Candle Floating: Glue a candle inside the shell of a walnut and send it across the water in a sink or basin. If one’s boat travels far before sinking, that person will move abroad. If it sinks quickly, the person will stay near home. If the shell fills up with water and then sinks, they should expect problems in the following year.
Knitting: Before the midnight mass one is not allowed to sow or knit. If they do, the mice will destroy the work.
Laundry Washing: One should not do the laundry on Christmas day; it brings sadness and bad luck to the household.
Chicken Feeding: If a chicken is fed poppy-seeds on Christmas day, it will guarantee good and frequent egg-laying.
Flour Throwing: Throwing a handful of flour into the air means that the Meluzina* will have enough ingredients to make porridge for the children. *The Meluzina is a mythical fairy who has a snake’s tail instead of legs. She appears in the Lusignanu castle in France.
Apple-Peel Throwing: If a girl peels an apple and throws it over her head, whichever letter the peel will look like will be the first letter of her future husband’s name.
Guest Awaiting: If a woman is expecting a baby, she should wait for the arrival of the first Christmas dinner guest. If the first guest is a man, she will give birth to a boy.
Elder Tree Shaking: If a girl shakes an elder tree and a dog barks; then the direction where the bark came from will be where her betrothed will arrive from.
Log Grabbing: If a girl goes into the shed and grabs an armful of logs and the number of logs is even; she will get married soon.
Fence Shaking: If a man wants to get married, he needs to shake a fence in the quiet countryside. Wherever he hears the first sound; that will be the direction where his betrothed will come from.
Barn Cleaning: One should not clean barns or stables on Christmas day; otherwise the cattle may begin to limp.
Ax Stepping: Whoever steps barefoot on an ax underneath the Christmas dinner table won’t have any foot pain and will remain healthy all year.
Walnut Eating: The night before Christmas day, it is customary to put a walnut by the bed. If it is eaten upon waking up they will have peace from fleas and bedbugs all year.
Stale Bread Eating: If one eats a piece of stale bread during Christmas dinner, they will be lucky all year.
Bread Burning: If the housewife (or in modern days, househusband) burns the traditional Czech bread (vánočka) they will be ill on Christmas.
Wind Observing: The direction of wind on Christmas day will help predict the year. If the wind comes from the West it will bring a plague, if it comes from the East it will bring war. If it comes after midnight, it will bring hunger. If it comes around noon it signifies a good year.
Poultry Serving: Poultry should not be served on New Year’s Day; it could make all the luck fly away.
Water Bowl Freezing: If you put a bowl of water by the window; if the water freezes and the bowl breaks, water will be lost from the well that year.
Carp Fin Collecting: If you place coins or carp fins under the plates to symbolize that there will be enough money for the family rest of the year. To increase your chances at financial luck, it is also customary to put the carp fins in one’s wallet and keep them there all year.
Shoe Throwing: A fun superstition involves girls throwing a show over their shoulder after Christmas dinner. If the shoe points the door, then it is believed that she will get married within a year.
Cake Crust Searching: If an unmarried woman goes outside in the midst of cooking Christmas dinner, she will meet the man she is destined for. The wedding will happen for sure if she goes around to nine buildings/houses and brings home a crust of Christmas cake from each one.
Well-Knocking: On Christmas day it is an old custom to knock on a well so that the water will be good all year.
Water Glass Placing: A glass of water placed under the Christmas dinner table will predict next year’s harvest. If there is less water in the glass after Christmas dinner, the New Year will be dry. If there is more water, then it will be a wet fertile year.
Debt Owing: On Christmas day one should not have any debt. If they do, then it will summon grinding poverty.
Honey Bee Helping: If you want bees to produce honey next year, you need to put a few drops in front of their beehive.
Dinner Table Leaving: Firstly, the table should be set for an even amount of people, odd number bring bad luck or even death. If there is an odd number, it is common to set an extra plate for an unexpected guest. If you get up alone from the Christmas dinner table before everyone is finished with dinner, you may get a visit from the grim reaper. It is safer to wait for everyone to be finished so that everyone gets up together. Some believe that only the first person to get up will die the following year, so if you need to use the bathroom and someone else already got up, you may be safe.
Gift Giving: Whoever doesn’t give anyone a gift on Christmas will become bankrupt and will experience poverty in the following year.
Leftover Burying: Leftover from Christmas dinner should be buried near the trees outside. This will help them grow enough fruit during the following year.
Henhouse Knocking: If a girl knocks on a henhouse and the rooster responds, she will get married for sure.
Table Roping: If the legs of the Christmas dinner table are draped around with rope, the house will be protected against burglars all year.
Animal Feeding: Dogs, cats, geese and ducks should be given some garlic for vigilance.
Golden Pig Seeing: Everyone who spends all day fasting until the first stars are visible will see a golden pig on the wall. This superstition started in the middle ages when the pig was the symbol of the sun. Gold symbolized the departure of winter and the pig represents abundance and prosperity.
Bread Cutting: After the Christmas dinner, one should cut a piece of bread made out of wheat grain flour and a piece of rye bread. These pieces of bread should be places on either side of the blade of a knife. After the day of the three kings (January 6th) the knife should be observed, the side that the knife is rusty on will signify which of the ingredients you will be lacking the following year. So if the knife is rusty on the rye bread side, there will not be enough rye.
Groom Predicting: Before going to bed, an unmarried woman should eat an entire herring. After she eats it, she isn’t allowed to speak until the morning. In her dreams, the man who brings her a glass of water to drench her thirst is her future husband.
Led Pouring: In the older days, people would melt a piece of led over fire and then pour it into a container of water. The shape that the led takes on will predict the pourer’s destiny. However today, people use wax instead of lead.
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