Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Mikuláš Day in the Czech Republic

Annual License to Legally Torture Your Children in Public With Impunity

I've seen some pretty bizarre cultural rituals on this global journey o' mine. Rarely do they warrant intervention by some sort of child protective services entity (like the time I heard an American mother threaten her child while in line in the supermarket: STOP IT NOW OR I WILL SLAP THE BLACK OFF OF YOU!!!) But when they do, you can only sit back, watch, and enjoy the show. Um, unless you like children or something.

Every year in the Czech Republic, they have been torturing their children in public for hundreds of years when Mikuláš hits the streets with his hoary host.

It seems innocuous enough to the outsider: an evening wherein people don seasonal costumes and take to the streets. But the seedy underbelly of this fluffy tradition lies hidden to all but the most cynical. In the West you've got a jolly fat man in red clothing checking his list (his accountant checks it twice) to find out if you are naughty or nice. Then you get presents. If your parents aren't cheap bastards.

But in the East, the story is a bit more convoluted. You've got your saint (Mikuláš, pronounced 'Mee-koo-losh'), you've got your angel, and you've got your devil. What? The devil? What the devil? I'm sure my Czech wife explained the traditions to me until my eyes glassed over and I started dreaming of pizza or something, but I don't know WTF this is all about. Yes, I could Google it, but what does Google know that my wife doesn't?  Plus, the viewpoint of the culturally ignorant is far more entertaining.

The erstwhile Czech Santa, known as Saint Mikuláš (Nicholas?) is a tall chappy in a Pope hat. After he shits in the woods, he staggers, drunk on cheap Czech beer, down to meet his pals, a real motley crew: an angel (usually a female) and a devil (usuallly a middle aged man drunker than a monk).

Mikuláš, the angel and the devil appear every December 5th and troll the streets looking for children to torture. The angel calms the child down and whispers happy horseshit into its ear, while the devil, a soot-faced malcontent with horns and a curly-haired wig* creeps up behind the child, holds a burlap sack over its head and threatens to kidnap him. Mikuláš just stands tall, watching the torture, the twisted fuck. Perhaps he will intervene in the case of a tie.

And the tears begin to flow. The child, caught between Heaven and Hell, candy sweet nothings, a burlap sack and a job in the iPhone factory in China, lets go with real, genuine tears of fear. And the parents—usually the mother—stands behind the child and GRINS FROM EAR TO EAR. It is the only time I have born witness to child abuse in public treated like a gameshow.

It must be some kind of revenge ritual. There can be no other logical explanation.

Mother to child: 'Do you remember all the times this year that you balled up your little fists, shook til you were red in the face, and let go with screams of defiance so loud that every single person in the entire shopping mall spun their heads and looked at me as if I were the worst mother on the entire planet? Yeah? Well, this is my sweet revenge, you little shitbag.'

ACTUAL TEARS FOR FEARS (look at that boo-boo lip) --->

If only they performed this ritual in Berlin. JAYzus H. Lapdancing Christ, they have some of the most spoiled children on the planet over there. Where is Der Teufel when you need him?


*Czechs have the some of the straightest hair on Earth. Perhaps they were invaded by curly-haired Celts and were so scarred that it altered their very mythology.

photos by Gabriela Sarževská


Laurel-Rain Snow said...

Okay, you got me with that boo-boo lip...I am a sucker for crying children...as long as the crying does not include whining. I hate whining! LOL

A new blog...I like the premise. I'll be watching!

Craig Robinson said...

So I've done 5 blogs at this point, 3 of which I currently maintain. Only a dozen more til I'm caught up with you!

- Big Sir

Laurel-Rain Snow said...

I'm moving in the other direction now, and have SIX blogs at this point. I'm holding steady with those. LOL