Nearby are some recent pictures from our little city. In the past week or so, winter has delivered about 12 inches of snow and lows in the single digits (fahrenheit). We are very thankful to have warm clothes and a very cozy flat. We read in the news last week that 30 homeless men died in Poland due to the harsh onset of winter. The days are pretty short now. The sun doesn't rise until after 7:00 a.m. and it sets before 4:00 p.m. Even at noon, the sun doesn't make it to 45 degrees above the horizon.
Almost everyone goes around bundled up in heavy coats, scarves, gloves, hats, and boots, but some of the Czechs will brave the weather with bare heads. We saw a man run into the post office last week in shorts and a T-shirt! Surely he wasn't planning on staying out too long!
Another of the photos in this post shows something new to us. The traditional manger scene is accompanied by a small post box so children can send letters to Baby Jesus requesting the gifts they want for Christmas. Czechs tell their children that little Jesus brings the presents at Christmas. The role of St. Nick (Svatý Mikulaš) is to visit children on his special day (the eve of Dec. 6th) and talk to them about their behavior during the previous year. He is accompanied by an angel who rewards good children with a small gift and a demon who warns children and gives a lump of coal or a potato to those who have misbehaved; especially bad children might be bound up in a sack and carried away by the demon, although I understand this rarely happens today. Parents here usually find someone known to the family to play the roles of these traditional characters.