18 December 2012

The Christmas - Carp?

Christmas traditions, of course, vary from country to country; even from region to region. These variations include what we eat on the occasion of Christmas Day (or Eve, depending upon the local practice). In many English-speaking lands, turkey and ham are now traditional meals on Christmas Day, although there are certainly pockets of those who enjoy such traditional meals as lasagna. In many nations roast pork is favored. Germany features a variety of wurst (sausages) and France - well the French have a little bit of many wonderful French specialities.

Chicken, turkey, goose, and duck seems to be the most-oft consumed main course.
The cakes and pies also vary. The one constant is that they are plentiful.

Here in the Czech Republic, the traditional meal, served on Christmas Eve, consists of fish soup, fried carp, and potato salad. It's a relatively new tradition (19th century) although carp have been an economic staple here for centuries. You can read more about this here.

Carp tanks and cuttings boards
The carp are purchased on street corners (at least in the city of Prague) where large tubs boiling with fish are set up. People wait in line for the opportunity to purchase their Christmas Eve dinner. One chooses his or her carp and then can opt to have it butchered on the spot or to take it home live. Often the carp will inhabit a home's bathtub for a day or two before becoming part of the festive repast.

In my very unscientific survey over the past two Christmas holidays, I have never found a Czech who enjoys the carp. Yet, most still indulge in the traditional meal. As Tevye said (in Fiddler on the Roof) "Traditions, traditions. Without our traditions, our lives would be as shaky as... as... as a fiddler on the roof."

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