A Christmas letter

11-12 2001 Ohlasy a názory česky
obálka čísla

    I'm sure you're wondering why you're receiving this letter, since there is already a Czech Embassy in Washington, DC. I've written there already, and am hoping that your embassy míght have materials that are unavalable of ours.
    I am hoping that you can help me on two topics that I am trying to research regarding medieval Christmas customs in Bohemia. I believe both of them were also practiced in other European landsduring that time.
    The first is the custom of electing a boy bishop (in honor of St. Nicholas) who would preside at the church. According to one source, "The custom of electing a boy-bishop on the feast of St. Nicholas dates from very early times, and was in vogue in most Catholic countries, but chiefly in England, where it prevailed certainly in all the larger monastic and scholastic establishments, and also in many country parishes besides, with the full approbation of authority, ecclesiastical and civil. The boy-bishop was chosen from among the children of the monastery school, the cathedral choir, or pupils of the grammar-school. Elected on St. Nicholas's day (6 December), he was dressed in pontifical vestments and, followed by his companions in priesťs robes, went in procession round the parish, blessing the people. He then took possession of the church, where he presided at all the ceremonies and offices until Holy Innocents' day (28 December)."
    One source stated that this was practiced in Bohemia, but I am unable to find ony specific mentions of it. Do you have any materials about this, or can You point me in the direction of someone who would?
    The second custom pertains to Christmas caroling in Bohemia at that time. The boys would carry a pole with an illuminated star at the top of it while they were caroling. This represented the Star of Bethlehem. I know that this custom was also practiceď in the Ukraine, but mentions of it in Bohemia are limited. Each year I host a Czech Christmas party where we carry out all of the old customs. I would like to construct such a pole and add the custom to the festivities this year. Obviously, I would need drawings of the object in order to re-create it.
    Do you have any materials about this, or can you point me in the direction of someone who would? Material and/or images of any other Bohemian Christmas customs from the Middle Ages would also be appreciated, as I am researching them os well.
    I hope that you'll be able to help me with any materials, images, or leods on these topics.
    Looking forward to hearing from you, I remain,
    Sincerely yours,

Petr Chudoba

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