Sunday, December 13, 2009

Vintage Christmas Monday - Czech Christmas Postcards & Traditions

These Czech Christmas postcards are not dated but are probably from the 1970s. All except one have writing in a foreign language on the back, but none are postally used. The printed greetings on the back include Radostné Vánoce (Merry Christmas), Štastný nový rok (Happy New Year), and Vánoční pozdrav (Christmas Greeting).

Czech Christmas trees are usually decorated on one of the two days before Christmas, and are taken down on January 6 (the feast of the Three Kings). At first the trees were decorated with apples, gingerbread, nuts, candles and straw decorations, and were topped with a star. Glass decorations later became common.

The next card shows a vánočka, a traditional sweet bread of braided dough. The tabletop wreath is similar to an advent wreath, but traditional advent wreaths have only four candles, one of which is lit on each of the four Sundays before Christmas. The wreaths are usually made of conifer branches and are decorated with cones, berries, and other materials.

The next card illustrates two traditional Czech customs. In the first custom, each person cuts an apple in half crosswise after Christmas Eve dinner. A core that looks like a five-pointed star is lucky and foretells good health and happiness in the next year. A star with four points means that illness is expected. A cross is even worse. In the second custom, little candles in walnut shell halves are floated in water to foretell the future of their owners. A candle that burns a long time predicts a long and happy life. If the little walnut boat stays close to the edge of the bowl, its owner will stay home.

Nativity scenes are one of the oldest Czech Christmas traditions. The nativities recreate the manger at Bethlehem where Jesus was born. Many different types of materials are used for scenes of various sizes.

I'm participating in Vintage Christmas Mondays.
Also see my December Vintage Thingies Thursdays posts for more vintage Christmas stuff.


  1. I enjoyed this post so much, because my grandparents came over from Czechoslovakia! I never heard about any of these traditions from them, so this was all very interesting to me. I have a couple of postcards from there, but I've never seen any Christmas ones. Thank you so much for sharing this, and now I'm going to click on that link about Czech traditions!
    Happy VCM!

  2. What beautiful postcards and I love the stories that go with them! My very favorite is the Nativity... Bisous... Julie Marie

  3. I loved reading about the traditions and I think I will like to adapt the apple cutting and nut boats! Sounds like fun. Thanks for sharing this wonderful information, I really enjoyed learning different customs. Merry Christmas ~ Judi

  4. what a charming post. Love the umbrella ornament and those cute little walnut cups with candles.

  5. It is so fun to see your postcards. Thanks for stopping by to see me.

  6. I've never seen any of these particular ones before. Seeing the Christmas traditions of other countries is so interesting! Thank you for sharing these. Happy VCM

  7. lovely photos of your postcards...and the stories are wonderful...they are the best part of Christmas!

  8. Oh, I enjoyed this post very much! I guess my little walnut boat would be the one that stays close to the edge of the bowl! :)

    Have a Happy VCM!

  9. I love that second post card with the snowman! xo, suzy

  10. Gorgeous vintage pictures!
    Sending you happy Vintage Christmas Monday wishes from Boxwood Cottage in Germany

  11. This was a wonderful post. I love the history you provide with your postcards. I love old postcards. I have several books of them from a great great aunt who took a trip around the world in the early 1930's. I'll share them sometime after the New Year.

  12. How interesting! I do like your postcards. Thanks for your sweet comment.

  13. Wonderful post, I have Czech family up in North Texas, and so much of this looks familiar from time spent with them. We would always attend Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve at the most glorious old painted Church.

    However, the feast at the Christmas dinner table is probably my favorite Czech holiday tradition! :-)

  14. So different than what we usually see as holiday postcards. xo Joan, youdr hostess

  15. I enjoyed this introduction to Czech Christmas traditions and the lovely vintage cards. My favorite, of course, is the nativity card!
    All the best of the season to you,


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