So who does bring the presents in Czech Republic? Who is Mikulas and why does he look a lot like Santa?
In Czech Republic we have been influenced by several different cultures. For a long time the "Ded Moroz" was pushed into our culture. He comes from Russia, but since he brings presents on the last day of the year, he never quite fit into the Czech traditions.
After 1989 Santa took his place. Santa is nice, old man with white beard, that's loved by everyone, right? Well, not really. In Czech people look at Santa more as a product of commerce and somebody who is trying to take baby Jesus place.
So you guessed it, baby Jesus delivers presents in the Czech Republic. The tradition of course comes from the biblical story of Jesus Christ, but unlike Santa, baby Jesus is very hard to be spotted on Christmas day and nobody really knows how he looks like, which leaves a huge space to children's imagination. Traditionally after Christmas Eve dinner one family member rings a bell and that signalizes that baby Jesus did came and presents were delivered.
Santa is loosing his battle also as he looks just like Mikulas (technically both characters refer to the same person anyway). St. Mikulas day is on December 6th, but the night before Mikulas walks around the town accompanied by Angel and Devil. He delivers sweets and fruits to children. Usually they have to ask nicely, sing a song, play instrument of say a poem to receive their gifts. Why does he brings Angel and Devil with him? Devil is here to scare the disobedient children that were misbehaving during the year, give them some potatoes and coal so they will remember to behave in the next year. Angel is good one of course, who carries candies and gives presents.
And what about the Christmas tree?
Decorating the Christmas tree is a Christmas Eve tradition, but the tree stays in the house at least till January 6th, some keep it even till February. And then it's nearly time to start preparing Easter...