Holidays Christmas & Advent Customs & Traditions Culture & Science

Lucky, another scary Czech Advent Tradition

Lucky (read “lutskee”) are another peculiar character from the Czech Advent traditions.

Did you think that the list of spooky traditions before Christmas ended with Barborky and Mikuláš? Well, it doesn’t.


Legend of svatá Lucie (St. Lucy)

The 13th of December is the name day of all the ladies called Lucie. This is thanks to the Christian martyr St. Lucy who gave all her possessions to the poor. She scratched her own eyes out to avoid marrying a pagan but Virgin Mary gave her even more beautiful eyes. She was tortured to death.

Pagan traditions of St. Lucy

There is a Czech saying that goes “Svatá Lucie noci upije (ale dne nepřidá),” which means “Saint Lucy will drink from the night (but won’t add to the day”. This means that on this day the night time is shorter, although the daylight doesn’t seem any longer. It comes from the Middle Ages when Czechs were using the Julian calendar and the Day of St. Lucy was the winter solstice.


There are a lot of do and don’ts connected to this day and also one very peculiar custom, that is, however, slowly dying out. Just like Barborky, girls going as Lucky on the evening of December 12 also dressed in white, in some towns also wearing a big white beak made from paper. The beak symbolizes the cleansing or “cutting off” from all bad things. The folkloric myths say that evil spirits and witches had the most power during the shortest days of the year and Lucky and their magical practice were protecting people from evil.

Lucky (plural from the name Lucka which is a diminutive of Lucie) also used to go to peoples houses checking if the home was properly clean and if people did what they were supposed to do on this day (and equally importantly, if they weren’t doing what was forbidden). One of the forbidden activities was making threads. Lucie, the patroness of the thread makers, required that no one would make thread on her day, or else she would throw so many empty spindles into the room that the thread maker would spend forever to fill them with thread. According to other legends, they would hit the thread maker with a wooden spoon. Other activities people were not supposed to do were sewing, doing the laundry or pluck feathers.

Lucky would not only check if the house was tidy but also imitated housework. What made them even more scary was that they would do all this without saying a word.

And of course, we mustn’t forget the scaring of children. Lucie used to carry large knives and threatened children with opening their bellies and filling them with hulled grain if the children don’t fast on the Day of the Christmas Eve.

Here you can watch a short video about this tradition.

Day of St. Lucy as an important milestone

Many villagers used to give their cattle a piece of dough with spices every day from the Day of St. Lucy until Christmas day to prevent them from getting cursed. They also used to make three crosses over the entry to the stables using holy water and in Moravian Slovakia, people would put away one log of wood from St. Lucy’s Day until the Christmas Day because they believed that if they used these logs later for making fire, this fire would protect them against the witches’ power.

Another interesting custom was making wooden stool using a plank with a hole from a knot. The man who made the stool would take it to the mass on Christmas Day and he would look at the women in church through that hole to know if they were witches.






You may also like...