The potato salad sits in big pots, the presents are wrapped and the dialogue from a televised Czech fairy tale is making its way trough the apartment. This is Christmas in the Czech Republic, and here, the big day is today the 24th, and not tomorrow.
In most homes throughout the country families are getting ready to eat carp, which has been sold in large tubs throughout the city over the past week. In the old days, families gave the carp a name and let it swim in their bathtub before deciding to chop its head off or letting it back into the river. Luckily, the Special Assistant to the Blogger recognizes that some traditions aren't worth keeping, one of them eating fatty fish, so we'll be having salmon, chicken schnitzel and potato salad for dinner.
After that, presents are opened. And here's the biggest paradox of them all: In the Czech Republic, the most atheist country in Europe, presents are brought by Ježišek, or Baby Jesus. As one student put it earlier this month: "We believe in Baby Jesus, we just don't believe in his father." There is no catch-all depiction of Ježišek -- in fact, the Special Assistant often pictured him as a little hedgehog with boots when she was little.
So that's how it goes here. Wherever you are, and however you celebrate it, have a wonderful Christmas. And don't do this.