Ježíšek

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Ježíšek (the Baby Jesus) is a cultural Christmas figure popular in the Czech Republic. It is also known as Ježiško in Slovakia and as Jézuska in Hungary.

There is no accurate description of the Ježíšek. He has been depicted as a baby, toddler, and young lad. Some even consider him simply as an abstract figure.[1] According to tradition, the Ježíšek makes his appearance on Christmas Eve. After families have the traditional Czech dinner of carp, potato salad, carp soup or pea soup family with children go to some room and watching the sky and looking out the Ježíšek. Meanwhile rings a bell. After that children run to room where are already presents in some families Ježíšek sets up also a Christmas tree. In other buy tree parents and whole family decorate it.[2] Little boys and girls open their gifts on 24th of December.[3]

History and Cultural Significance[edit]

The tradition of the Ježíšek has been observed by the Czechs for more than 400 years.[4] This is partly due to the large population of Catholics during that period. It was Martin Luther who coined the term during the 16th century, an attempt to provide a suitable name to their figure other than St. Nicholas.

In 1989, after the Velvet Revolution that overthrew the communist regime, local entrepreneurs began introducing Santa Claus to the country. He appeared in shop windows and town gatherings. Czech children were surprised to learn that their toys were given to them by an old man instead of the figure they grew up with. Despite the growing presence of Santa Claus, the Ježíšek continues to be a popular tradition.

In December 1996, 80 Santa Clauses held a rally at the heart of traditional Prague in another attempt to make the Western figure popular with the children.[5] It had moderate success, which eventually paved the way for Zachraňte Ježíška’s petition to actively protect local Christmas traditions.[6]

At present, belief in Ježíšek is upheld in modern Czech society, despite having the lowest rates of religious affiliation in the world.[7]

See also[edit]

  • Christkind, the same tradition in German-speaking countries

References[edit]

External links[edit]