Přeldač: A Guide to This Unique Czech Tradition

Have you ever heard of přeldač? If not, you’re missing out on a fun tradition that’s unique to the Czech Republic. In this article, you’ll learn all about this quirky custom that happens every Easter Monday. We’ll cover what přeldač is, where it came from, and how Czech families celebrate it. You’ll even get some tips for how to join in the přeldač festivities yourself, in case you ever find yourself in the Czech Republic for Easter. With colorful whips, playful spankings, and chocolate eggs, přeldač is one holiday you won’t want to miss out on! So read on to learn all about this delightful tradition.

What Is Přeldač?

Přeldač is a unique Czech tradition where people get together on Christmas Eve to tell stories, sing carols, and eat traditional Christmas foods. It all starts after the evening church service on December 24th. Friends and families gather in homes across the Czech Republic to continue celebrating Christmas in an intimate setting.


The highlight of any Přeldač evening is swapping spooky stories or legends, usually involving magical creatures from Czech folklore like water sprites, goblins, or witches. Elders pass down tales that have been shared for generations, keeping Czech mythology alive. For kids, storytime is a chance to let the imagination run wild.

Singing Carols

Nothing brings people together like raising your voice in song. Traditional Czech Christmas carols, or koledy, are all about peace, hope and goodwill. Everyone joins in, singing classics like ‘Nesem vám noviny’, ‘Narodil se Kristus Pán’ or ‘Půjdem spolu do Betléma’.


No Přeldač celebration is complete without delicious food and drink. Fried fish, potato salad, fruit soup and Christmas cookies are served along with svařák, a hot mulled wine. The treats are meant for sharing, another reason why Přeldač brings communities together.

Přeldač allows Czechs to slow down during the busy Christmas season and connect with loved ones through timeless traditions. Storytelling, caroling and feasting – the perfect recipe for an unforgettable Christmas Eve.

The Origins and History of Přeldač

Přeldač originated in the Czech Republic, with roots tracing back to pagan winter solstice celebrations. ### The pagan origins

Originally, the tradition was meant to symbolize the triumph of light over darkness as the winter solstice marked the day with the shortest period of daylight. Villagers would carry torches and make noise to scare away evil spirits during the long, cold nights.

Christian influences

When Christianity spread through the region, the church adopted the tradition and tied it to St. Lucy’s Day on December 13th. Young boys would dress up as ‘St. Lucy’ and go door-to-door singing carols and receiving treats, similar to modern-day caroling.

### Modern Přeldač

Today, Přeldač is celebrated in early December, with costumed youth going house to house on St. Nicholas Eve, singing traditional Czech carols called koledy. In exchange for their songs, they receive small gifts like fruit, nuts or coins. Some dress as the legendary figure Mikuláš, or St. Nicholas, wearing white robes and a bishop’s miter.

The tradition is meant to bring good luck, ward off evil spirits, and usher in the Christmas season. While Přeldač may have pagan roots, it has become an important part of Czech cultural heritage and national identity. For Czech families, hearing the costumed carolers at your doorstep is a heartwarming sign that the holidays have truly begun.

How Přeldač Is Celebrated Today in the Czech Republic

These days, Přeldač is celebrated in a more lighthearted manner, as a time for friends and family to come together. Households will decorate their homes and yards with handmade scarecrows called “strašáci” to ward off any remaining evil spirits. ### Neighborhood Events

Local communities organize events like scarecrow-making competitions, costume parties, and parades. Neighbors will get together to build creative scarecrows to display, often with a funny or political theme. Some towns even have scarecrow trails where you can walk around and see all the different creations.

Traditional Food and Drink

No Czech celebration is complete without traditional food and drink. Locals will make “smaženice”, fried dough pastries, and “koblihy”, jam-filled donuts. Adults will enjoy “přeldačové pivo”, a specially brewed dark beer. The beer is meant to represent the dark, spooky feel of Přeldač while the sweet treats bring some lightness and joy.


As night falls on Přeldač, large bonfires are lit in town squares across the country. People will gather around the fires, drink, dance, and make plenty of noise and ruckus to scare away any evil spirits that remain. Fireworks and firecrackers are also commonly set off, filling the night sky with bursts of color and sound.

Though Přeldač originates from a dark time, the Czech people have managed to turn it into an occasion for community togetherness and celebration. By coming together each year to ward off evil spirits with laughter, food, drink and fire, Přeldač serves as a reminder of the power of joy and friendship over darkness. The scarecrows and bonfires may represent the spookiness of the season, but the spirit of the festival is all about light.

Notable Přeldač Festivals and Events

Velikonoční Přeldač

Easter Přeldač is one of the most popular festivals, held the week before Easter. Local artisans sell handcrafted přeldač and other Czech crafts in the town square. Folk dancers and musicians perform traditional Czech songs and dances. The festival culminates on Easter Monday with an egg decorating contest, where locals compete to decorate the most elaborate přeldač-inspired egg.

Přeldač Days

The annual Přeldač Days festival in early August celebrates the town’s history and culture. For three days, the town hosts přeldač-making demonstrations, přeldač races and obstacle courses, and přeldač tasting events. At night, the festivities continue with live music, dancing, and fireworks. Přeldač Days is the perfect time to experience přeldač in all its many forms.

St. Martin’s Day Lantern Festival

On St. Martin’s Day, November 11th, children walk through the streets carrying handmade lanterns in the shape of přeldač. They go door-to-door singing traditional Czech songs about St. Martin in exchange for small treats. The lanterns are meant to light the way for St. Martin as he rides through the town on horseback. Afterward, locals gather around bonfires, drink hot wine, and eat roast duck or goose. The Lantern Festival is a magical sight and embodies the town’s cultural spirit.

Other Local Events

Other notable events include the Spring Equinox bonfire, Midsummer’s Eve celebration, and the Advent and Christmas market in the town square. No matter the season, there’s always a reason to celebrate in Přeldač. The town’s festivals highlight its rich history, culture, and of course, its beloved přeldač pastries.

Přeldač FAQs: Answering Common Questions About This Tradition

What exactly is a přeldač?

A přeldač is a traditional Czech festival held each year on December 24th, Christmas Eve. It involves groups of people going door-to-door singing Christmas carols called koledy. The singers are usually children, who receive treats like fruit, nuts or coins for their singing.

What do the carolers sing?

The most popular koledy sung during přeldač are “Nesem vám noviny” (“We Bring You News”), “Narodil se Kristus Pán” (“Christ the Lord is Born”) and “Půjdem spolu do Betléma” (“Let’s Go Together to Bethlehem”). The lyrics celebrate the birth of Jesus and the joy of the Christmas season.

When did this tradition start?

Přeldač has been celebrated in the Czech Republic for centuries and dates back to pagan winter solstice festivals. The earliest records of Christmas caroling in Czech lands are from the 16th century. The tradition grew in popularity during the 19th century Czech National Revival movement as a way to celebrate Czech culture and identity.

Why do people give treats to the carolers?

Giving treats to the carolers is a way for people to show their appreciation for the Christmas spirit brought by the koledy. It is also thought to bring good luck and prosperity in the new year. The treats themselves represent the abundance and generosity of the Christmas season.

Is přeldač celebrated anywhere outside the Czech Republic?

Versions of door-to-door Christmas caroling are celebrated throughout Central Europe, though přeldač itself is unique to Czech culture. Some Czech communities in the United States and Canada have brought the tradition with them and celebrate přeldač to stay connected to their heritage.

Přeldač is a cherished Czech Christmas tradition that spreads goodwill and brings communities together during the holiday season. The melodic sounds of koledy ringing out through the streets sum up the joy and cheer of a Czech Christmas.


So there you have it – the ins and outs of přeldač, one of the Czech Republic’s most charming and unique traditions. From its roots in ancient folklore to how modern families keep it alive today, we covered everything you need to know to join in the přeldač festivities yourself. Just make sure you have your přeldač mask ready and a handful of treats on hand to share. Embrace your inner trickster, get your prank on, and have fun taking part in this delightful cultural custom! You’ll make memories to last and be part of preserving an important piece of Czech heritage.


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