On Monday, the streets of villages and towns will be filled with St. Nicholas’ troupe. Author of several books and regular contributor to the Reader column, reporter Pavel Kyselák remembers the feast of Saint Nicholas during his childhood. He wrote it in the Malohanác hantec. He regrets that dialects in the Czech Republic are slowly disappearing like steam over a pot.
Santa with devil and angel.
| Photo: Diary / Attila Racek
When I was still a little boy, Saint Nicholas and the devil used to come for me every God’s year. I admit that I used to be very worried about him, so I hurriedly wrote a poem so that he would get something nice. For years, I promised the devil with a pozňák and a chain up and down that he would be good and listen to my mother, but he wouldn’t take me to hell. My mother reminded me of this black and horned one with a hellish stench wherever I went.
But when I was a little older, another Santa Claus followed me, and I recognized from his shoe that he was not the real Santa Claus, but my neighbor’s Fanóch Vašička, and my brother, who was six years older, was the devil. And white after Nicholas. As I recently learned, my dad used to make Mikoláš. In my grandfather’s room, I then found his harmare mask aji with long white fangs on top…
Since we are white big fagans, we are led by St. Nicholas and the devil and the angel. Well, back then, in the sixties of the last century, the whole village was plagued by cancer. We walked around the village in a daze, and she crowed: “Mikoláš lost his cloak and Mikoland too.”
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One thought came to us that after serving the Santa Claus duties, we would visit the regulars at the local pub. We even liked Domino Krupiček from neighboring Hosobrno. He was an old bachelor, because he wished him to his mother and spent most of his free time in our Ho Karel hut. That time, a griot told us. Karl, the innkeeper, wanted to get married. On the one hand, he had a shop and also the leader claimed: “E děcka majó žižen.” My wife and I finished the sweet liqueur, we rattled the infernal chain a few more times and we went back to the village.
For a while, we shouted and screamed in the village chapel with wicked joy that we were supposed to meet all the way to Šobiřov. But as soon as we slowly trudged towards our house, we were all gone as quickly as the steam from a cooking pot disappears.
PS I still have a hidden postcard from my cousin Milan from Brno, which he sent me before the feast of Saint Nicholas. On one side he painted a beautiful devil with a pitchfork and on the other side he wrote:
For me the time is very bad,
I write once a year.
I only choose my loved ones
to this December moment.
I wish you a good deal
you my sweet angel