He’s making a list, and Czeching it twice…

December 7, 2011

Blog Guy, I need to tap your background in psychology. I can’t get my husband to enjoy the Christmas holidays. When he sees festive decorations he just breaks down and sobs.

Hmmmm. Did he by any chance grow up in Prague?

Why yes, he spent his childhood there!

I thought as much. Have a look at these photos from Prague, where revelers dressed as Saint Nicholas and a devil approach small children on the street and demand to know if they’ve been good or bad. It’s enough to warp any child for life.

You mean a child has to figure out what a saint and a devil are doing together, and then decide whether to tell them the truth about his behavior?

That’s about it.

But that reduces a lovely tradition to a senseless, disorienting, often menacing complexity.

Bingo. The very definition of Kafkaesque, and you know where he was from.

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Revelers dressed as Saint Nicholas and a devil look at children at the Old Town Square in Prague, December 5, 2011. The revelers  approached children on the streets as part of a tradition to determine if they had behaved well during the past year; and depending on their answers, would receive presents, sweets or coal accordingly. REUTERS/David W Cerny

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We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/

I’m curious that children would receive presents, sweets, or coal. What decides if the children get sweets or presents? Does some purgatory figure make that decision? Or a local dentist?

Posted by 69Spinster | Report as abusive

I tried a few of the tags: only one result for Kafka, two results for Satan (such a pity — such a ripe-for-humor tag), and two for psychology (Don’t click this tag, folks! I’m warning you!).

Posted by 69Spinster | Report as abusive

Nice use of reverse psychology there, Spin…

Posted by rcbasler | Report as abusive

I humbly offer a haiku:

Christmastime in Prague
It includes fire and brimstone
And Kris Kringle, too

Posted by 69Spinster | Report as abusive

Blog Guy, you have a background in psychology? Also, is Italics Guy a straight woman or a gay man, or did you have to get a new one after the old Italics Guy quit yesterday?

Posted by 69Spinster | Report as abusive

Some alternate definitions of “kafkaesque”:
a) the condition of being in Mr. Spam Filter’s dog house
b) listening to the Republican Presidential Debate “highlights” in a waiting room at your local Department of Motor Vehicles
c) facing work without the OEB while co-workers discuss the doings on Keeping up with the Kardashians.

Posted by jclimacus081 | Report as abusive

Spin, your warning came too late for me–oh the humanity!

Posted by jclimacus081 | Report as abusive

Perhaps the sweets/presents/coal thing is another version of a sugar-coated Satan sandwich.
http://blogs.reuters.com/oddly-enough/20 11/08/03/ill-have-the-satan-sandwich-sug ar-coated/

Posted by 69Spinster | Report as abusive

Holy crow! That kid in the second picture looks like he’s ready to dive off his dad’s shoulders he’s so scared!

Posted by Bandage | Report as abusive

Ok so that stuff I said yesterday about your puns not being all that great? You know I didn’t mean that right? Yeah, you know I was just upset and all. I do think your puns are really good! Czeching it twice? Golden! You deserve a huzzah for that! See what I did there? You think “huzzah” should be used more right? It’s one of your favorite words? So if you stay I promise I will use those words more! Hell, I will even open my own haberdashery and name it Huzzah! But you can’t leave ok? I will open up a haberdashery if you stay! Deal?

Third Stage of Grief: Bargaining.

Posted by iflydaplanes | Report as abusive

How much coal do they give you? Given the price of coal, I’m willing to admit to badness.

Posted by CrowGirl | Report as abusive

You’d better watch out
You’d better not cry
You’d better not pout
I’m telling you why

Satan Claus is comin’ to Prague
Satan Claus is comin’ to Prague
Satan Claus is comin’ to Prague

He’s making you all blue, blue
He’s looking cold as ice
He’s gonna give you
A complex for life

Satan Claus is comin’ to Prague
Satan Claus is comin’ to Prague
Satan Claus is comin’ to Prague

He sees you in your stroller
He knows when you’re awake
He knows if you’ve been bad or good
So grab that Xanax quick!

Posted by jclimacus081 | Report as abusive

I am warped enough from Christmas here; St. Nick and the Devil would have nudged me right over the edge.

Czech your childhood phobias here!
Leave them at the door.
Christmas is coming, have no fear.
Be merry ever more.

Posted by Onedoor | Report as abusive

Your headline reminded me of the old joke about the Prague smuggler who hide people in suits of armor. When asked where his human cargo was, he’d shrug and say “The Czech is in the mail.”


Posted by FriscoJohn | Report as abusive

Lol, that was a good one,Frisco.
And the Czechs need to be checking themselves.
Keep the scares for Halloween please.

Posted by Shra | Report as abusive

@jclimacus081: c) facing work without the OEB while co-workers discuss the doings on Keeping up with the Kardashians….
…Egads! This is as bad a prediction as the one ol’ Jake revealed to Eb Scrooge.

Bah! Humbug! To borrow a line (amended) from Charlie D.: “Why show me this, if I am past all hope!…I will honour BG and the OEB in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach. Oh, tell me I may sponge away the writing on this stone!”

(@ifly – 4th Stage of Grief, ya think?)

Posted by Moonshine | Report as abusive

Did someone misread the job ad for ‘Santa’s Little Helper to be ‘Satan’s Little Helper’?

That would also explain the guy just out of shot dressed as Rudolph the Red-Nosed Orc.

Posted by Nosmo_King | Report as abusive

Now that I am being laid off from my job as OE’s Taser Weilder and Zapper, I am sad.
However, until the last day of this blog (and my last day) you shall NOT learn and you shall NOT teach!

Any serious commentators are seriously, NOT welcome!

Posted by Shra | Report as abusive