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St. Nicholas Day 2013

Celebrating St. Nicholas Day (December 6th) has been a tradition in my family since my grandparents were small and, one can assume, since their parents and their parents and their parents, etc. were children, too, in what is now the Czech Republic. My younger son's anticipation of St. Nicholas coming, shopping for what goes in the stockings, and watching my sons open them are highlights of the Christmas season for me. So is the feeling that I kept a cultural tradition alive for at least one more year, hopefully strengthening it's memory in my children's minds.

I wrote about some of my memories of St. Nicholas Day and what my sons get in their stockings in a blog post in 2012. This year was no different, though I found candy cane-flavored Pop Rocks to add (not Czech but really fun) and blown glass ornaments from the Czech Republic.
 I attended the December meeting of the Travis-Williamson Czech Heritage Society chapter and queried the group about how many of them have gr…

Top 10 Food Moments of Czech Heritage Month

It's the last day of Czech Heritage Month. I went to so many events that, between them, I was too busy taking care of 2 boys, a full-time job, fundraising for the Texas-Czechs exhibit, and life maintenance to do any blogging about them. To je skoda because it was a banner month for Texas-Czech food in my life. Any one of the events that I mention below deserves it's own blog post (and they may still get it), but in order to feel caught up culturally, I thought I would recap the whirlwind 31 days of October with my Top Ten Favorite Food Moments of Czech Heritage Month 2013.  Hang on for the ride.

10. Pickled Beets in my Inbox
I got this email and the photo below from my parents on the 26th... "Just finished 18 pints & 1 quart. Aren't they beautiful?" In a phone conversation the next day, my mother told me that after putting up one batch, they were so pleased, they bought more beets and put up another. Now there will be plenty for the Thanksgiving and Christmas …

It's Czech Heritage Month in Texas

Happy October! Counties all over the state are once again proclaiming it Czech Heritage Month in Texas. This type of official recognition of the importance of Czech influence and history is always validating. However, it will never take the place of individuals and families prioritizing activities that support or actively pass on Texas-Czech traditions to their children. If the community wants to be recognizing anything other than history during this month in a generation or two, we members have to be deliberately and consistently making Texas-Czech traditions a part of our daily (or weekly or monthly) lives.

I challenge you to celebrate your Czech-ness this month by taking these words to heart. And, most importantly, remember that recognition and innate love of heritage starts at home... early. If you act like it's important, your children (and grandchildren, nieces, nephews) will, too. If you don't have children, support activities and attend events so that they continue fo…

They're Almost All Gone

Today in the mail I received my copy of the latest newsletter of the Texas Czech Genealogical Society publication, the Cesky Stopy. My father signed me up as a member of the organization and though I don't take advantage of the conferences they hold or resources they make available, I enjoy reading the Stopy four times a year. My dad has really become interested in our family genealogy in the true sense of the word - researching one more generation back in the family line, then another, then another.  He's serious about our heritage, both Czech and Polish. See his brand new custom made boots at left with both country's flags and, below them, the earliest date our ancestors immigrated from each. He's a proud man; there's no way I, the oldest child, could not be affected by his love of history and of Texas. My dad was recently moved to write the article below, which I was pleased to  turn to on page 12 of the Cesky Stopy edition that arrived today.  
I'm cheating …

Dougal Makes Cream Cheese Rolls

When my 14-year-old son asks to bake something (himself), especially something from his ethnic heritage, well history, nostalgia, and pride tell me to say yes. My oldest son asked to make cheese rolls (or buchta in Czech) which is one of his favorite sweets. We didn't get started until late on a Friday night, after dinner out, after going to see the new Percy Jackson movie, after a trip to the grocery store to get the ingredients because I hadn't planned well. But we did it. How could I discourage such an urge?

Cheese rolls are not dinner rolls with cheese on them; they are jelly-roll type sweets of yeasted dough filled with sweetened cream cheese. We used my grandmother Anita (Morkovsky) Kallus' recipe, which is below. A buchta can actually have in it some of the same things that kolaches are filled with... poppyseed, apricots, cream cheese, but also pecans, brown sugar, raisins or whatever else might strike your fancy. They can also be shaped so that the dough is braide…

158th Prazska Pout

Last Thursday, I attended the 158th picnic of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Catholic Church in Praha, Texas. I thought it would be interesting for you, dear blog follower, to first read about my great grandfather, Alois Morkovsky, attending the 28th Praha church picnic. Below is his account of getting to Praha. At the time (1889), he was a single man of 19 working for a farmer in Moulton. He worked the fields, built a hayloft and stable, and hauled loads of stone from Praha for the lining of a well.
He wrote "The Parish Feast in Praha took place in August, and it was more than half a year since I had been there among my old acquaintances. But how to get there the 10 miles distance? We had a young horse that had a habit of first throwing the rider and then letting him mount again and ride. I put on my stout, everyday clothes and saddled the horse. He was full of mischief and indicated that he intended to throw me to the ground. I did not give in. I lost my hat and was…