Postwar conditions of crowded housing and working parents, as well as the general scarcity of appliances, meant that the kitchens of Czechs and Slovaks contained the barest necessities. Food storage was not a consideration for most families because foods were usually purchased on a daily basis. More recently, with working parents, traditional home cooking is likely to be limited to weekends or holidays and further limited by what is available. Tiled ranges heated with locally mined coal have been the center of most Czech kitchens, complemented by handwoven table linens and brightly painted earthenware or fine china dishes. In better homes, the family’s treasured collection of fine Czechoslovakian crystal would be used to grace the table for special occasions.
Most Czechs and Slovaks are Roman Catholic, celebrating traditional feast and fast days, while only about 10 percent are Protestants of the Reformed and Lutheran Churches. Of the more than 350,000 Jews living in Czechoslovakia before the Second World War, few remain. Those who were not killed during the Nazi regime emigrated.
Traditional festive fare consists of roasted goose or duck served with steamed dumplings, gravy, and red cabbage. Trout or carp, especially the spectacular kapr na cerno (a whole baked carp served with black sauce made of beer, prunes, raisins, sugar, and vine-gar) may grace the festive table for Christmas Eve.