Holy Carp!

Ah, Christmas…a time for presents, bubble lights, Santa Claus, carols, a trimmed tree and a bludgeoned carp.

What was that last one Alicia?

That’s right, a bludgeoned carp. Just a few days before Christmas (like now) large barrels of live carp start to pop up all over the city. I have seen them near metro stations, in the town squares and, well, just about everywhere else. Carp is the traditional Czech Christmas dinner. Just about every family has it on the holiday, and it is fried and eaten with potato salad. Actually it is on Christmas Eve here, that’s the big holiday. The 25th is more of a day to go see extended family, the gifts and all of that stuff happens on the 24th. Okay, back to the fish.

Here’s how it works. You walk up to a tank that is all but over flowing with carp, point to the one you want and wait for the magic to happen. You have two choices: you can take the carp home, put it in your bathtub, and then kill it yourself later after the kids have named it and made friends with it. Or, you can have the carp guy do it for you. If you choose the later option, get ready for a little blood bath baby. After pointing to the fish that has the unfortunate future of being your Christmas Eve dinner, the vendor will get it for you. And by get it for you, I mean club the fish to death…right there on the street. Some vendors fish it out first and some just kill it in the water. It’s fucking cool! Seriously, you won’t see this kind of thing in the US.

The other big difference in this festive season is the jolly man who brings gifts tto all the boys and girls. No, not Santa – Jesus! That’s baby Jesus to you. Yep, here in Praha little tykes write letters to baby Jesus hoping for presents. I have a vivid picture of little baby Jesus, all in his swaddling clothes, riding in a big red sleigh, weighed down by a huge sack of presents. I feel bad for him. I mean it’s his birthday and the poor little dude has to give presents to every other little kid in the world. Heck, all he got was gold, frankincense and myrrh! What’s a baby supposed to do with that? What about a nice jumpy seat, or a Tickle Me Elmo? I bet baby Jesus would have been really happy with some blocks or a nice stuffed donkey. Something to play with or suck on at least. Anyway, it just seems a little unfair to me, that’s all.

While I am on the subject of Christmas, I’ll just take this opportunity to thank everyone who sent me a Christmas card. “Thanks.” It’s real nice to get mail, and it’s even nicer to get mail that has pictures of you all! I know I usually make fun of Christmas cards that have family pictures on them, but this year I am truly grateful for the visuals. I didn’t bring pictures with me so it’s nice to have your smiling faces to look at. Speaking of smiling faces…this is a family portrait of my roomies GB, Joey and Summer. Cute, huh?

So Happy Chaka Khan-ika, my darlings! Have a fierce New Year, and a swell season! I hope that your holidaze are merry and bright and that you remember the true meaning of Christmas, deep in your hearts.

Dead fish.

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