Marco Polo’s 24 Holiday traditions from around the world – Day 17: Czech Christmas Carp

Happy 3rd Advent Sunday! It’s Day 17 of our Advent Calendar and that means that Christmas is only 7 days away! Today we are headed to the Czech Republic to find out why some Czech citizens avoid taking relaxing baths at home a few days before December 24th. Did you miss yesterday’s post? Check it out here!

carp by andrijbulba, on Flickr
carp” (CC BY 2.0) by andrijbulba



In the Czech Republic, and also in Slovakia, it is customary to eat fish on December 24th, and the fish of choice is usually carp. In fact, the local superstition is that eating carp on Christmas Eve will bring good fortune for the next year, and if you keep a scale from the Christmas carp in your wallet, it will help to keep money (and presumably to attract more of it) in your wallet. What makes the tradition particularly peculiar, however, is that many Czechs opt to buy a live carp a few days before Christmas Eve, presumably to make sure their Christmas carp is as fresh as it can be. Of course, the carp splashing and swimming around in the bathtub usually turns into a source of fun and fascination for children and cats. Some families even name their carp, and perhaps unsurprisingly, end up releasing the fish instead of cooking it to perfection.

Fortunately, it is also possible to buy your carp from the fishmonger ready to cook, without having it occupy the bathtub.


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