If you go back far enough, you’ll find a pagan root for anything. But that doesn’t explain the continuing popularity among Czechs for baking Christmas sweets, from chocolate-topped baskets filled with nuts, to gingerbread fish, dusted vanilla rolls, and doughy wasp-nests oozing egg-liqueur. Just make sure you hold out on sampling them until Dec. 24 — legend says you’d be inviting misfortune.
In today’s Czech Republic, it’s ever more likely holiday celebrations will include a family member from another country. Alongside the carp and potato salad that Czechs traditionally serve up on Dec. 24 (in lieu of a Christmas goose, turkey or ham), what are the festivities like for ‘mixed couples’? And how do their kids see the gift-bearers Ježíšek (baby Jesus) and Santa Claus?