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Ježíšek (the Child Jesus) is a Christmas gift-giving figure used in the Czech Republic. Similar gift-giving figures also appear in other countries such as Slovakia (Ježiško) or Hungary (Jézuska).

Much like Santa Claus, Ježíšek gives gifts to good people - that is, Czech people send gifts to their relatives and friends and say that the gifts are from Ježíšek. The gifts are unwrapped in the family circle on the evening of Christmas Eve. Traditionally, Ježíšek is imagined as a small child - a firm appearance is left to each persons' imagination. At the present time, especially in advertisements, images of Santa Claus are easier to use, but face quite a lot of opposition from the general public. In the overwhelming majority of Czech families it is still Ježíšek who brings all the gifts - and the Christmas magic, too.

Ježíšek comes after dinner on Christmas Eve. Dinner usually consists of fish soup or pea soup with fried bread pieces and fried carp with potato salad. The meal named Kuba is also popular. Before or during dinner parents sneak away to put the presents under the christmas tree then, after dinner, Ježíšek (one of adults again) rings one of the bells on the tree to announce that gifts are there and the children rush in.

Since the 19th century, the Christmas tree is set up on the morning of Christmas Eve and taken down on Epiphany (January 6). Decorations are usually glass blown ornaments, garlands, and candles, lit right when Ježíšek puts presents under the tree.

The Czech tradition of Ježíšek delivering presents at Christmas time is distinct from that of Saint Nicholas who brings his presents (in the form of goodies and sweets - or coal and potatoes) on his own day December 5. He is accompanied by an angel and a devil (who is supposed to scare little children by telling them, he will take them to hell if they were naughty).

See also

  • Christkind, the same tradition in German-speaking countries
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Wiktionary

Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

Czech

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Etymology

From Ježíš (Jesus)

Proper noun

Ježíšek

  1. A representation of Baby Jesus who traditionally is seen as a gift-giver at Christmas in the Czech Republic.

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