Irony of Irony of Ironies / Ironie ironiiIrony of Irony of Ironies / Ironie ironii | Czechmatediary
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Irony of Irony of Ironies / Ironie ironii

Save  Little Jesus image/ image “Save little Jesus!” , the signs declare. A bunch of demonstrators, dressed up as snowmen, were expressing their opinion toward the increasing intrusion of the big-bellied Santa and his reindeer – the all-American images of Christmas. Slogans such as “We survived Grandpa Frost (=Deda Mraz; the former USSR image of Christmas), we are going to survive Santa Claus!” or “The end of big-eyed reindeer in Czech!” made me think of couple of ironies however:

  • Irony 1: The Czechs are fighting off Santa Claus as an American spirit of Christmas, meanwhile the image of Santa  in America is becoming politically incorrect. Both of them are connected with the word ‘Christmas’ which has become a forbidden and offensive ‘C’ word within the last few years. So while the Czech Republic is trying to save the their image of Christmas, the Americans are fighting to save Christmas itself.
  • Irony 2: Most Czech are devoted atheists and they are fighting to keep Jesus in their lives? I understand that it is a tradition but it is still pretty funny if you think about it.

If you would like to sign the ‘Save little Jesus’ petition like I did, click here.

CZ: “Zachrante Jeziska!”,Prezili jsme Dedu Mraze, prezijeme Santu Clause”; “Konec vykulenym sobum v Cechach!” – to jsou slogany, ktere se objevily na nedavne demostraci protestujici proti americkym vanocnim symbolum. Demonstrujici zvolili kostym snehulaku proto, ze pry ztelesnuji atmosferu ceske zimy. Po precteni clanku jsem se ale zamyslele nad jakousi ironii:

  • 1. Cesi se ze svych zivotu snazi vystrnadit Santu a Rudolfa, mezitim tyto symboly se z  dnesni politicky korektni (nevzpominam si na ten vyraz v cestine) Ameriky pomalu ale jiste vytracuji. Proc? Jsou totiz spojene s vyrazem “Vanoc” a jelikoz toto slovo se do anglictiny prelozi jako “CHRISTmas” mame tu problem. “Christmas” pochazi od slova “Christ”, tedy krestanska postava a v dnesni multikulturni spolecnosti byste timto slovem vlastne mohli nekoho urazit (tato tzv. “Christmas-o-fobia” mi opravdu prijde trosicku ujeta). Takze zatimco Cesi se  snazi uchovat tradicni postavy ceskych Vanoc, Americane se snazi samotne Vanoce zachranit.
  • 2. Vetsina Cechu jsou zaryti ateiste a to, ze nehty a zuby bojuji za Jeziska (coz je stale ten samy Jezis z krestanskeho nabozenstvi) je opravdu k pousmani.

Jestlize mate zajem podepsat petici “Zachrante Jeziska” ( ja uz jsem ji take podepsala), klepnete sem.


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32 comments… add one
  • Marika December 21, 2009, 10:35 am

    It is funny and sad at the same time. Yes, the letter “C” is pretty much forbidden these days. Reminds me of communism, especially here in U.s.
    That is exactly what I tried to run away from.
    “Odrikaneho chleba nejvetsi krajic”
    Merry Christmas, Vesele Vanoce

  • Tanja December 21, 2009, 12:02 pm

    Total communism!!!!! It is so ridiculous I used to work at Starbucks and we were NOT allowed to say Marry Christmas to people unless they told us Marry Christmas back.
    I am sorry but the MAJORITY (97% of people to be exact) celebrates Christmas and democracy is lead by the majority. And if someone is Jewish and celebrates Hanukah I will be happy to wish him a Happy Hanukah 🙂

  • Marika December 21, 2009, 2:23 pm

    Tanja, on the positive note, lots of people are fed-up with this non-sense. Whenever I had to go to store the past three weeks, which has been a lot 99% percent of the time the cashier would be the one to say Merry Christmas first. The poor Pilgrims are probably turning in their graves.

  • Tanja December 22, 2009, 12:54 am

    Not here in California – it is pretty pathetic. Even some of my Christian friends have wished me “Happy Holidays!!!”…go figure…
    Oh well, this too shell pass…;)

  • keith December 22, 2009, 1:33 am

    Best thing ever- Jim Carrey comes on the Jay Leno show and says to Jay, “Well I hope you’re having a CHRISTY, CHRISTY CHRISTMAS!!!”

  • Raffy December 22, 2009, 3:19 am

    Tanja, as far as I know, non-Christians and Jehovah’s Witnesses usually don’t celebrate Christmas.

    Indeed, it’s very ironic since I can even expect less from an atheist to celebrate Christmas than those 2 groups above.

    What’s the use of a tradition if the reason for it is gone?

  • Jana P December 22, 2009, 7:50 am

    I guess the tries to save Jezisek are more about “the presents” thing than Christianity. Many kids, and I think including Christian kids, had no idea what Jezisek means other than a creature bringing presents (only to those who behaved!:). I personally didn’t connect the meaning to Jesus until I was older (and that was even when we were putting up a ceramic Betlehen with baby Jesus every year). That creature that brings presents is one of the Christmas magics and everybody can have his/her own idea how Jezisek looks. Which isn’t the case with Santa. And I would also like to remind that Vanoce is based on far more than Christianity – originaly it was the celebration of solstice back in the ancient Rome times (and who knows what was before Romans or Greeks), and some habits are pagan – like mistletoe and decorating tree. So Jezisek also has a transfered meaning for many, like the Christmas itself had throughout time, and so there’s no need to find it ironic 🙂

  • Marika December 22, 2009, 9:36 am

    Tanja, it really is not so bad. I live in liberal Northern California. I went to Safeway yesterday and there were a lot of people showing the Christmas spirit. Everybody was wishing Merry Christmas to each other. I have not seen this in years.

  • Sarka December 23, 2009, 12:38 am

    Raffy, almost all of the Czech Republic is non-christian (atheist) and they all celebrate Christmas.

  • Marika December 23, 2009, 10:01 am

    Are their statistics for how many people are not Christians from reliable sources? I was under impressoin that 90% Czechs are Catholics. Especially the older people living in small towns and villages.

  • Tanja December 23, 2009, 12:20 pm

    The Czechs have the biggest number of atheists in Europe. I wrote about it here:

    – the article also has a link in it where you can find out the specific numbers.

    The few believers we have are found in Moravia and then some old people (like my one grandmother; the other one is a die-hard communist beliver).

  • Vlastimil December 27, 2009, 9:09 am

    When I was leaving my work before Xmas, my co-worker wished me Happy Holidays. Then, he looked around and said: “Merry Christmas?”.
    I said silently “yes…” and wished him back a Merry Christmas.. I became part of “conspiracy” :))

  • Vlastimil December 27, 2009, 9:14 am

    It is a paradox, but Barack Hussein Obama re-introduced Christmas into the White House… Now, the Holiday Tree is allowed to be called a Christmas tree… He knows how to get to people :)) And before we know, we will celebrate “Djed Moroz” 😉

  • Vlastimil December 27, 2009, 9:32 am

    One of my female coworkers (happy to have them 😉 got a call from a daycare…..She said to come immediately and calm down her son. She asked why …The response was that they took from him a doll of “Santa Claus” because religious symbols are not allowed in the daycare. I can really picture Santa Claus wandering in the Holy land of Israel and having chat with Jesus about raising money to fight Romans 😉 Now, when Romans have been chased from Israel, Santa Claus is giving present to children as a “thank” for support during a fight against Romans. Before Jesus died, he told to Santa Claus, that if Romans would be defeated and some fund raised money would not be spent (little he knew about Santa) , then Santa Claus should go and reimburse the money to all people, preferably Christians. Since Santa Claus had been drinking together with one of his deers Rudolf for ages, the money evaporated and parents have to help him up with buying gifts to children and lying to them, that it was Santa who brought the gifts…
    Actually, it is good for our economy and credit card company’s stocks are hitting new heights…

    Merry Chri$tmas !!!

  • Vlastimil December 27, 2009, 9:35 am

    I had also two grandmothers… One was atheist and anti-communist, the other was devoted communist AND active Roman Catholic…. Live is a mess

  • Marika December 27, 2009, 11:42 am

    Thanks for the info Tanja. I will czech it out.

    Life is a big mess but that’s what makes it a life.

  • Jamie December 27, 2009, 11:01 pm

    I don’t know what these people are all excited about. It’s not the Americans who are causing the move to Santa Claus, it’s two other things:
    1. The name of Jesus is not mentioned at all for the rest of the year in a typical Czech household, other than in mild curses.
    2. It’s just too hard to believe that a baby can haul presents into your house, and it’s much more believable that a fat man is doing it.
    Put all those together, and not only do a lot of kids start to believe in Santa Claus instead of Ježíšek, but a lot of them think Ježíšek and Santa Claus are the same person. In fact, I unintentionally made a little Czech girl cry nine years ago when I insisted to her that the fat man in the red suit wasn’t named Ježíšek. She thought Ježíšek was the Czech term for Santa Claus.
    This is not the first time that’s happened in history. One of Santa’s nicknames in the US is “Kris Kringle”. Most people don’t know that this dates back to early America, when English-speaking kids were getting their presents from St. Nicholas and German kids were getting them from the Christkindl. Then as now, it makes no sense that a baby would be carrying presents into your house, so the German kids started to think the Christkindl was Santa Claus, and the word morphed into “Kris Kringle”.
    And by the way, all that “American” Santa Claus stuff that gets imported to Czecho? It’s mainly from China. I don’t see them blaming the Chinese manufacturers or the Czech importers. It’s always the Americans who are to blame.

  • Tanja December 27, 2009, 11:57 pm

    Vlastimil: I can’t believe your co-worker’s story! What city/school was it at? That is completely outrageous!

    Jamie: Interesting history info you gave us here – I did not know that. As far as baby Jesus dragging in presents, I don’t think Czech kids imagined him as an actual baby. I myself imagined him as a flying (skinny) adult whose name was “Jezisek”.

  • Jamie December 28, 2009, 2:39 am

    See what I meant, Vlastimil? It of course the concept of the baby Jesus bringing presents dies out, because it makes no sense for a baby to be lugging things like that around. Maybe an army of babies in an old Loony Tune, but not just one baby no matter how miraculous he is.

    I don’t know when I stopped believing in Santa Claus, but I’m sure it was some time after I stopped thinking Nikita Khrushchev was in our basement waiting to attack me with a sickle. He was never there when my mom or dad were with me, but I know he was waiting to ambush me if I came down alone.

  • Vlastimil December 28, 2009, 7:05 am

    Jamie, I think the anti-Santa Claus sentiment is an anti-US sentiment. Many people in Europe hate US.
    I really think that Americans don’t push Santa Claus on Czechs. It is Czechs themselves and also the commercialization of their life. The greed and profit is not purely American phenomena 🙂
    Americans are not telling Czechs how to celebrate their holidays. Simply the American culture (the definition of it is a very broad one 😉 is so powerful, that anybody in the world kneels before it ……

  • Vlastimil December 28, 2009, 7:07 am

    Tanja, the incident in the daycare happend 10 years ago in Merck company’s daycare center. And guess what, my co-worker and friend is Jewish and her son simply thought that Santa Claus is a nice character to have around 🙂

  • Marika December 28, 2009, 5:28 pm

    Vlastimil you crack me up with your story. Sometimes, it is very hard to believe how many ignorant people are out there. I totally agree with your opinion. Czechs did imported Santa from U.S. themselves. I had simular thoughts, when I first visited Czech Republic after the Velvet Revolution. You could see commercials on Coke and all kinds of american things all over Prague. I thought first Russians, now Americans. Where is this country going? Copycats, why they cannot be proud of their own culture, promote their own products? In conclusion, the Czechs are the guilty ones. Then again they always liked to point their fingers and blame somebody else. So, what else is knew?

  • Jamie December 28, 2009, 5:47 pm

    Marika, one reason they were not proud of their own culture and did not promote their own products right after “Plyšák” is that their culture and products at that time really were vastly inferior.

    For example, I don’t like to eat at McDonald’s here in the States (nothing against it, but I just don’t like their food), but in the CR, at that time, I found McDonald’s food much more appealing than the four-hour-old bramboráky with flies crawling on them that I could get next door. I also liked it better than those mystery meat vomačka burgers they used to pass you through a window at the foot of Vaclávské náměstí. (However, I did like the grilled kielbasa and rye bread from the battleship-gray stands on the sidewalks, and nothing beats a good chodská pizza.)

    Face it. At that time the Czechs were not as good at making appealing products as the people in the West, and they were not as good at customer satisfaction as the Vietnamese on the tržnice.

  • Tanja December 28, 2009, 11:12 pm

    It’s true,what sells is the American stuff, not the Czech stuff and that’s the end of the story as far as products go. And bottom line, lot of people still believe that American products have a much better quality then any other goods.
    But I agree with you Marika, the Czechs love to complain so it is easy to blame the big guy – the US. It is also sometimes’in’ to be anti-American but that’s a different story.

  • Vlastimil December 29, 2009, 2:23 am

    American crap or Czech crap, all of this is made in the same concetration cam somewhere in Himalayas…
    Santa Claus has been drinking for ages and now he is
    giving away dangerous toys and other stuff for “grown ups”..
    He us a serial killer, let’s face it. But “Jezisek”
    he is giving away toys made in Krusnohori, where free unemployed people will gladly work for Chinese salaries … and quality is much more better then the one of concentration camp production…

  • Vlastimil December 29, 2009, 2:31 am

    Jamie, I love “bramboraky” bought on Vaclavske namesti from Russian mafia. Bramboraky are fritted in an oil (nafta) with the highest care and you can see, the nafta is very very black, but bramboraky are green, so you are happy and say “spasibo” and enjoy your potato pancakes ..
    Remember, the best bramboraky are green ….
    And I shoulds blame Jezisek that he allowed it

  • Lenka July 1, 2014, 6:08 pm

    What an interesting conversation about religion and the Czechs. It looks like I’m five years too late to the conversation but I thought I’d chime in anyway. I’m was born in Moravia (Sumperk) and immigrated to the US with my parents in 1985. Every time I visited (which was often before my grandparents passed) I always thought the Czechs were a super devout Catholic culture. All the statues of saints everywhere, the churches, crosses above the main doorway of the house, the religious cultural celebrations (like the Three Kings, Easter, and St.’s days/ names days), the little roadside chapels. I don’t know how true it is but I was told that all of the cherry trees that you find alongside a lot of the roads were originally planted to feed the folks on pilgrimages… so I was completely shocked when I read that the majority of the country is atheist or non-religious (at best). I thought it was a typo!

    My dad’s side of the family was very devoutly Catholic. My mom’s mother was from Protestant Slovakian peasant stock (really awesome people!) I never spent much time in the Czech regions (more so in Slovakia and Moravia.) Is Czech and Slovak religious sentiment more a generational thing or a geographical thing? Or both? Were there more religious Czechs before the Communists? Is the religious apathy a result of the Communist era? For the Czechs who grew up in Czech and are living in the States now: it seems to me that religion is viewed very differently here than it is in Europe. It seems to me to be a quieter, more intrinsic part of every day life there (at least among the religious) than here, where it’s more of an activity relegated to Sundays. Is that generalizing too much?Thanks!

  • Tanja July 3, 2014, 11:01 am


    I come from Prague and religion there is close to none. The only people who go to churches are old folks who, like your grandma (and my grandma) were born and raised in Moravia, where Catholicism is still engrained deep in their culture.

    My grandma was the only one who was a believer, the rest of my family is 100% atheists.

    Funny thing, my grandpa was Slovak and he was also Protestant! He married my grandma (other grandma) who believed in the ‘goodness’ of communism. Weird.

    How did religion get pushed out of the country? There are various reasons, one of them is communism; however, Poland, for example, was communist as well and Christianity is huge there. It just does not make sense, does it?

  • Jamie July 3, 2014, 11:24 am

    Tanja, I think people on the West Coast are more extreme than in the rest of the country. In Detroit it’s very common for cashiers and other service workers to tell customers, “Have a blessed day!” People in California tell me they would be disturbed by this, as if the cashier were proselytizing. We don’t think that way.

    Do you want some irony? Many of Americans’ favorite Christmas songs were written by Jews! Obviously, those people weren’t offended by Christmas! Take a look at the top 10:

    I think the difference between Poland and the Czech Republic is based on how communist ideology was implemented. Marx and Lenin believed that breaking up the family was the way to break down the other institutions that competed with society for authority. This is actually the source of the 1960s sexual revolution mentality, and I think that played a role in Czechs’ current thinking and behavior. The CSSR allowed certain 1960s books and media from the West that were anti-religion but also advocated free sex and were rather anti-family. One of the biggest reasons people give up religion is that they don’t want to adhere to its sexual rules, and I think this was a factor in the CSSR. Czechs during late communism and early post-communism were like exaggerations of hippies in their sexual beliefs and practices, and they even worshiped John Lennon as a god.

  • Lenka July 3, 2014, 2:11 pm

    Hi, Jamie.
    I’ve enjoyed reading your comments throughout Tanja’s many (awesome) posts- they’re very thoughtful, I think. I also wanted to compliment you on your Czech. It’s so rare for foreigners to even bother to learn it (outside of a few key phrases usually revolving around beer and girls) much less so well!

  • Lenka July 3, 2014, 2:18 pm

    Oh! One more thing… regarding the way Communism was implemented in the CR and the break down of the family structure. I see that there a lot. The last time I was back (maybe 5 years ago) I was surprised by the number of young couples who had children together out of wedlock- intentionally. I have a number of family members there who never bothered to get married before having children. A few cousins eventually did get married but it seemed like more of an afterthought. I do see this in the States sometimes, in the bigger cities, but it seems much more common in the CR (and France, actually, too.) Maybe a leftover from the Communists?

  • Jamie July 3, 2014, 6:25 pm

    Hi, Lenka. Thank you for all the praise you’ve just lavished on me.

    About Czechs not getting married now, I don’t think the real reason goes back to communism but is based on current government policy, and it’s similar to the reason some people don’t get married in the US. One of my many many former high school students who is unmarried, living stably with her boyfriend and has multiple children spat it out: She said that single women there get a larger stipend for each child, and they didn’t want to pass up that extra money by getting married. It seems some of them get married after they believe they’ve had their last child.

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